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Becoming a sibling: top tips to help children adjust to life as a big sister or brother

Posted 19th April, 2018

Many of our ABC children become siblings while they’re with us. For us it’s an opportunity to meet a new little face who will hopefully also be coming to one of our four Ofsted outstanding sites in the future, but for little ones it can be a confusing time.

Keeping their routine the same by sending them to nursery can be really helpful and enables them to have some time away from all the fuss surrounding their new sister or brother.

We do all we can to help children adjust to their new role while they’re at nursery – and we’ve put together some top tips for that transitional phase:

Involve them:

You might worry about letting your toddler (who will suddenly seem huge!) do too much with their tiny newborn sibling, and wonder how much they will understand about how gentle they need to be. But even involving them in small ways like asking them to fetch a spare nappy or bib can help reduce the feelings of jealousy that may surface if they feel pushed out of the situation.

Spend time with them:

It seems simple but in the early days of sleep deprivation, constant feeds and exhaustion it can be really easy to forget that your older child needs one-on-one time too. Even if you can only spare five minutes to sit and read their favourite book before bedtime, or a couple of minutes to sing some nursery rhymes together while someone else changes the baby, this time spent showing them they’re still very important can be hugely beneficial.

Keep their routine:

Where possible, slot the baby into the toddler’s routine rather than the other way round. By keeping the timings of their day the same and the rituals such as bathtime that they’ve gotten so used to over the last couple of years, it can help them feel more secure about the big changes in their life.

Prioritise who needs help first:

There will come a time when both children are crying at the same time. Instinctively, you might go to soothe the baby first but it can actually be more helpful to stop briefly and consider who will be the easiest to sort out. If your oldest just wants some water but the baby needs to be soothed to sleep, then taking the 30 seconds to get the drink before turning your attention to the newborn can mean you’ll have two happier babies much more quickly.

Nothing lasts forever:

Just as once you might have worried about how you’d cope looking after one baby, by now you’ll be well used to life with a toddler and in time you’ll be used to having two. Your toddler might use the opportunity of a new sibling coming along to get into mischief, regress slightly or show off their tantrum skills. But in time, they too will become used to their new role as an older brother or sister – and for every moment where they’re crying or doing something you’ve asked them not to, there’ll be another moment where they teach their sibling something new or just reach in for a big cuddle. Nothing lasts forever, everything is a phase and everything will be just fine!