- When you return home with the new baby, present her with a gift from her new sibling. A doll and accessories is always a good idea.
- Your toddler will play up and demand your attention just when you can’t give it, so expect her demands to intensify, especially if you have just sat down to feed the baby! To the best of your ability always attend to her needs first – this will make her feel secure.
- Have a pile of storybooks handy and place one of her little chairs alongside your feeding chair, so that she can sit with you and read a story when you feed the baby. This is a good habit to start, and she will start to look forward to this special time.
- When visitors arrive to see the new baby, let her show them to the nursery, and allow her to help open the baby’s gift, this way she will feel included.
- Avoid saying “don’t touch the baby” too much. She will cotton on that touching the baby gets your attention and will continue to do it. If possible ignore (unless she is feeding the baby a niknak, or holding him upside down!) Never leave her alone with the new baby.
- Use every bit of help offered.
- Take the phone off the hook when you are resting, or at least invest in a portable phone to keep alongside you.
- Limit visitors to a specific time of the day, so that you are not inundated all day. Visitors, while having your best interests at heart can kill you with kindness!
- Stick to your toddlers routine scrupulously – it will make the whole family feel more secure.
- Expect a regression in your toddler’s behaviour. She may demand a bottle or dummy again, or start wetting her bed. Keep calm, give her what she asks for, and know that it will pass with time.
- Try to spend some special time alone with your toddler every day, even if it means quiet time in the garden for twenty minutes.
- Look after your relationship with your partner – remember that you are in this together.
Top Tip: When you are still pregnant, put together a little box of age-appropriate wrapped goodies for her (for example a small box of smarties or a toy bottle), and keep this in the baby’s room. When you are busy with the baby and cannot attend to your toddler (such as when you are changing a stinky nappy, or feeding), allow her to go to her ‘special box’ and select a present. The selection and the subsequent unwrapping and exploring will buy you the time you need to finish off your task. This way, she will only associate a positive experience with the fact that you are unable to attend to her immediately.
Written by Sister Ann Richardson, qualified nurse and midwife and co-author of Baby Sense; Sleep Sense and author of the international best seller Toddler Sense