Prepping a Toddler (Under 2) to Become a Big Sibling

Sept. 2020: Taking Faiz to Cinque Terre to savor only child life and he really doesn’t care

We’re savouring the moments with Faiz, during his last few months of only child status. But I’m also thinking a lot about how he will respond to his baby sister. Apparently, when my little sister was born, three and a half-year-old me told my parents to send her back to the hospital or give her to a family who didn’t have kids. I actually think I was pretty clever to have thought of that solution.

January 21, 1993: Big sister, Shaina, meeting little sister, Sumer.

I was a little older than Faiz will be when his little sister is born, so I wonder how the dynamics will differ. Apparently, there is a difference in how siblings generally respond to a new baby, depending on the age. The age group of 0-2 years doesn’t completely understand what the new baby is doing in the household, but he does know that there is a redistribution in attention. The age group of 2-4 years might feel jealousy the most, because they are old enough to comprehend it is a new sibling, but not old enough to be patient. The age group of 4-6 years will likely be the most understanding, because they are old enough to understand they have a new sibling and babies don’t always know what they are doing.

As of now, Faiz is 17 months, hyperactive, wants to constantly move, and doesn’t speak but instead communicates with babbling and gestures. He is insanely extroverted and loves other kids, but because of COVID, the amount he plays with others is limited more than we would prefer. When the baby arrives, he will be 21 months. How will he change when the baby comes? What can I do to help? I spoke with our pediatrician, friends, and conducted numerous Google Searches. Here are some tips I found for preparing a toddler under two to a new sibling!

  1. Get him a baby doll: Get your toddler a baby doll to take care of and play with. Show him how to feed the doll with a bottle, change her diaper, or play peek-a-boo. Teaching him through demonstration and guidance on the proper ways to play with a baby, may not resonate 100% with a kid this young, but could still be beneficial to some extent. This will ease him into a small baby human entering the household.
  2. Read ‘big sibling’ books: Read some picture books about becoming a big brother or sister. The books should have good images of an older sibling playing with the baby. Read the text on the book, but also describe in your own words the pictures of a big brother hugging his little sister and relate the names to your children. A book with great reviews is “I’m a big brother” by Joanna Cole.
  3. Talk about the baby: My son isn’t speaking yet, so it feels sort of silly talking about the baby to him like he understands; but who knows? Maybe he understands more than I think. So as we do our usual baby sign language videos, I focus in on the term ‘baby’, ‘milk’, and other relevant terms. I point to my stomach, and ask him to feel the stomach. Our speech consultant suggested I narrate everything anyways to him, so I describe everything about his little sister (that I know of). I made sure to include him in the pregnancy announcement and gender reveal. I want it to be equally about my husband and I having a daughter, as much as about Faiz getting a sister.

In the meantime, we are trying to make as many memories as possible with our little boy, who is growing up oh so fast. Does anyone have tips on how they got their young toddler prepared for a new baby? Please share in comments section!

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