Bringing a new baby into the home can be very disorientating for a young toddler at the best of times, but under the restrictions of a countrywide lockdown, the challenge is even greater for parents. For the older sibling, gaining a new younger brother or sister can be the most impactful thing that has ever happened to them. The child’s life is about to turn upside down.
Dr Lin Day, Founder of nationwide Baby Sensory and Toddler Sense sheds some light on the issues parents face, “Adjustment to a new baby will depend on pre-planning and preparation, the child’s personality, age and stage of development, and relationship with their parents. Lockdown or no lockdown, ultimately, your toddler needs to know that he/she is still loved and wanted. Cuddles are important during any major life-changing event, and also throughout life. They can make a real difference to how the child feels and behaves and to relationships in the future.”
The following proven techniques will help to reassure your toddler:
* Actively make time just for you and your toddler when the new baby is sleeping or feeding (the tidying up and washing can wait!)
* Read a book together, colour a picture together, sing a song or get your toddler to help you with some jobs such as making lunch, gardening, cleaning etc.
* Be present in mind – as your toddler questions and listen to the answers
* Give lots of cuddles and expressions of love in front of the new baby so that your toddler feels included
* Give positive praise when your toddler has done something new or well and when they are kind or thoughtful to their new baby sibling
* Point out all of the grown up things that your toddler can so that the new baby can’t!
“Being at home most of the time means that your toddler will often want to be involved in what you are doing. Toddlers and older siblings may want to get involved in holding and cuddling the new baby. They may want to play with the baby during routine activities such as nappy changing, dressing, having a bath or preparing for bedtime,” Dr Day continues.
Try some of these easy tips to entertain your toddler while on lockdown with a new baby in tow…
* Find an old toy or home catalogue (or a magazine), a pair of safety craft scissors and some glue. Using sheets of paper or a scrapbook your toddler can cut and stick to their hearts content! If cutting out is difficult, the pages can be torn out, which is good for building hand muscle strength too. This can be enjoyed at a kitchen table while you are feeding or rocking baby.
* Shaving foam for sensitive skins squirted on a baking tray can also provide a quick source of entertainment for little fingers. Add a few toy trucks and small toy figures to encourage imagination. Your toddler will love this and it is easy to clean up later on.
* Dough is also great for rolling, kneading, and squashing and also excellent for developing fine motor skills. A few kitchen utensils will also extend all aspects of learning and development.
* Threading pasta on a string, a washing up bowl of soapy water to play with, treats or pretend treasure hidden in a bowl of polenta is fun to find too.
* Why not try matching lids to pots, pouring drinks from jugs to cups, bathing dolls, bendy straws tied together, and role-play or dressing up will keep your toddler busy and are good activities for when baby is sleeping.
* Entertaining toddlers doesn’t have to be rocket science, they love helping with everyday chores such as dusting, cleaning, baking, loading the washing machine, setting the table, and sweeping, which encourages them to re-enact real-life events and make sense of the world.
WOW World Group (which includes Baby Sensory and Toddler Sense) recently announced it is delivering all of its classes live online across all regions, as part of a huge motivational drive to boost interaction and wellbeing for parents with babies and younger children who are facing disconnection from vital ‘lifeline’ parent networks in light of coronavirus.