“As the baby develops, you should use that time to discuss with the older sibling how the baby’s changing,” he says. When your baby is a few months old, start telling your older child that the baby will be able to move around the room soon.
Explain to your firstborn that he won’t be able to leave his toys lying around anymore when the baby starts crawling or walking. You should also tell your older child that you’ll be putting up baby gates soon and that you’ll need his help with keeping doors closed and dangerous objects out of the baby’s reach. ”Planning ahead is always better than having to react to things,” says Dr. Homme.
Whereas parents of only one baby can babyproof the house fairly easily, things become more difficult with an older sibling in the picture. Rachel says that her toddler’s jealous behavior actually benefits her when it comes to these kinds of safety concerns. “Luckily, because Elizabeth is very possessive and won’t share any of her toys, I don’t have to worry about the baby getting anything small,” she says.
For many parents, it’s easy to grow accustomed to having fewer safety concerns as their first child grows older. However, Dr. Homme says, “It’s important that the younger child is afforded the same protections that the older child had.” This means you’ll need to install drawer and cabinet locks, shorten cords dangling from lamps or shades, install electrical outlet covers, put up baby gates—the whole nine yards. “It’s a re-babyproofing of the house,” says Dr. Homme.
Additionally, you’ll need to explain to your older child that certain toys aren’t safe for a little brother or sister. “Teach them they can’t just leave their toys lying around anymore because the baby can now get to them and it could hurt the baby if they put them in their mouth,” says Dr. Homme.