I realized that I share the same problem with so many moms: helping your toddler adjust to the arrival of a new baby. I won’t deny it. Daddy A and I are having a very hard time helping The Princess accept The Little Man.
As of this writing, our little girl is 20 months old and our boy is a month old. We tried all the techniques so we can prepare her for the coming of her little brother, but I guess every kid is different. What worked for one toddler may not work for another.
To give you an idea, here are the techniques we tried while I was still pregnant:
- We read books and watched movies about babies and older siblings.
- I gave her a baby doll that she gladly took care of.
- We talked to her a lot about her new brother and drew drawings for her.
And when The Little Man arrived,
- We gave her a present from her little brother,
- We asked people to greet The Princess before going to the baby,
- We refrained from saying that there’s a new baby so she won’t feel like someone took her place,
- We always ask her to help take care of The Little Man, and
- We spend alone time with her.
Unfortunately, none of these seemed to have worked completely on her. She does have days when she’d kiss her little brother or gently stroke his head or hand. But, we experience more days when she’d hit him, pinch him or even bite him!
According to BabyCentre’s Helping Your 1-year-old Adjust to a New Sibling, toddlers may react differently to a new baby. Some will show affection. Others will regress; meaning they will act like a baby (ex. crying for no reason). There will be some who will show their “feelings” by hurting the baby. While there will be others who do not want to get involved (at least for a while).
The Princess reacted with regression and, well, a bit of violence towards her little brother. We noticed that this escalates every time I am breastfeeding The Little Man. While I am nursing, she often takes my hand and brings me to her playground or asks to be carried. There are even times when she’d ask to be breastfed as well! Note: I didn’t breastfeed The Princess.
To give you an idea, this is how she is when The Little Man is with the nanny and she has all my/Daddy A’s attention:
And this is what happens when I’m nursing:
How are we handling this?
- Daddy A and I make it a point to have alone time with The Princess every day. We go on a walk or we take her to the mall near our house.
- We continue to let our toddler help take care of her brother. We are extra cautious, though, since she sometimes uses that chance to hurt the little one.
- We give her lots of activities – coloring, drawing, playing in her playground, playing with the dogs, etc.
- We enrolled her in Gymboree classes.
- Most importantly, we talk to her every time she does something bad. We don’t tell her she’s a bad girl. Instead, we use phrases like, “Mommy/Daddy didn’t like what you did…” Then we’d tell her to say sorry.
We are still in the early stages of adjustment. Hopefully, though, our little girl will eventually accept the fact that she’s a big sister now.