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Preparing your toddler for a new sibling with the help of dolls

by Developer Designer 06 Feb 2023

For toddlers, there’s already a lot going on in their world. They’re becoming their own little person, developing a unique personality and coming into who they really are. They’re most likely engaging with those around them more than they used to, and are probably pushing the boundaries to test their (and your) limits.

So when a new sibling is suddenly on the way and you, the parent, have found a way to tell your toddler that their world is about to change, it’s only natural to feel confused about how to help them adapt to this big shift.

One popular way parents can support this transition is through the use of dolls, which can have a big influence on the way a toddler perceives their new sibling overall. In this article, we explore exactly how you can adopt this method and why it’s beneficial.

Why dolls?

Dolls can help toddlers understand what it means to have a new baby in the family – especially when they’re given the chance to hold and care for it. In turn, it can ease fears and emotions of jealousy that might rise up over time.

However, it’s still important to choose the right doll. For example, choose one that’s similar in size and appearance to a real baby, rather than a ‘toy’-like one. This will help your toddler to understand that their new sibling won’t be taking their place in the family, but rather adding to it – which is exciting!

What to expect when the new addition arrives

As a parent, you want to do everything possible to help your toddler adjust to a new baby, but it’s not always clear how to do that, especially with a newborn demanding your full attention.

One way to combat this earlier on is by introducing your toddler to the idea of change before it actually happens. This can be done through play using dolls, acting out different scenarios and showing them how this will become a reality once their new baby brother or sister arrives.

Additionally, your toddler may experience some changes in their routine when the new baby finally does come home, which they may not be ready for. For example, they’re all of a sudden getting less attention from you and other family members, and there is another set of sounds and smells going on in their own space. This is naturally a lot for any child to take in.

Dolls can be a valuable tool in helping your toddler adapt to all this change, giving them a way to understand and cope with the shift. By playing with dolls, they can learn how to take care of a baby and feel more comfortable with the idea of a new sibling, and potentially even look forward to it instead.

How dolls imitate caring for a baby

When caring for a doll, toddlers unconsciously learn how to be gentle, nourishing and nurturing. All of a sudden, there’s another being that needs love and comfort, and so they’re put in a scenario where they need to provide this. Beyond this, they’re also taught how to have compassion and empathy for another human, if they haven’t already learnt this.

Additionally, they also learn how to hold and feed a baby properly. This can be beneficial when the new baby arrives, as the toddler will already have some experience in caring for them and know what’s ‘right from wrong’.

So what’s our biggest tip for using dolls as a way to introduce your newest family member? Keep it fun and educational. Your toddler shouldn’t feel like interacting with the doll (and eventually the baby) is a chore or taking away from their own needs; they should feel like they are playing a big role in their sibling’s new life (which they are).

When done right, your little one will be ready and raring to go, rising up to be the big brother or sister they’re excited to be!

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