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Getting your little one to sleep like a baby can be a lot easier said than done. Huggies has compiled articles, advice and answers on how to get both you and your newborn snoozing soundly.

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Taming teething pain

The first tooth is a huge, super-exciting milestone — for mom and dad. But for baby, it’s not exactly fun. Even tiny teeth cutting through her gums can hurt, so it’s no wonder she may be cranky (and maybe scream a little).

Keep her entertained

Get your little one's mind off the pain. Take her somewhere new — like the zoo or a music class. Read her a great colorful baby board book, or just head out for some exploring at the park.

Make sure she's getting enough rest

A baby who is in pain will only be more upset if she's not sleeping well. If she can't sleep well due to pain, it might be time to try some medical treatments.

Medicinal treatments

Before attempting to give your baby medicine (natural or conventional), talk to your baby's pediatrician about your options, which will usually include things like:

  • Homeopathic teething tablets: Note that most contain small amounts of sugar, so wiping your baby's gums is important.
  • Baby Advil, MOTRIN or TYLENOL: This may be the best way to help your baby get some rest if teething pain is keeping her up. Save this sort of medicine for when the pain is halting your baby's regular activity because you never want to give too much over-the-counter medicine to your baby. (Always check with your healthcare provider before giving any medicines.)
  • Teething gel: I tried something like Baby Orajel with my son when he was teething, and it didn't seem to help, but your baby could be a different story. Keep in mind that teething gels cause lots of extra drooling, so be prepared with a cloth or your baby's chin may become irritated from excessive wetness.

Never rub your baby's gums with alcohol. This is an old-time remedy, it's true, but back when this was common, we had no idea how bad alcohol was. Alcohol in any form is never safe for your baby.

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Out on the Town With a Baby or Two

Adding a baby (or two) to the family mix means having a strategy for dining out. These tips will help make things fun for everyone.

DO:

    Call ahead.

    This one step can make the difference between a fun night out and a “never again” experience. Make a reservation if possible, ask when the restaurant is least busy (breakfast and lunch are likely options), and make sure you can get a high chair. Are you getting a chilly response from the host? Don’t fight it — instead, find another spot where you’ll feel welcome.

    Be prepared.

    Don’t leave home without a fully stocked diaper bag! Bring a sufficient supply of Huggies Diapers and Huggies Wipes. Bring a bib or two or three, books and other quiet distractions, a sippy cup and snacks (just in case).

    Ask for an out-of-the-way table.

    A table that’s in a quiet corner gives you some privacy if you have to nurse and gives other guests a wide berth. That said, if you’re at a restaurant that features a show or kid-friendly entertainment, be sure to get a front row seat.

    Ask for baby’s food to be served immediately.

    Get your little one set up first to avoid fussiness. And don’t be shy about asking for baby-friendly foods that aren't on the menu, such as plain steamed veggies or a fruit plate.

    Clean up after your little one.

    If the area around where baby was stationed resembles a warzone, ask your waitperson for some napkins or a dustpan so that you can do some cleaning up. The waiter may demur, but your simple offer will make you a welcome return customer.

DON’T:

    Linger.

    Long, leisurely meals? Save those for date night when baby’s at home with a sitter. Don’t rush, but keep things moving. The less time you spend ordering, sipping your drink, and checking the bill, the better your chances of enjoying a meltdown-free experience.

    Forget your fellow diners.

    If your baby starts to fuss, take him out of the dining room until he calms down. Have your partner stroll with baby for a bit while you finish eating and then switch off. Or get your food to go and finish up at home (where you can still enjoy your meal and a clean kitchen!).

WhatToExpect.com

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Brain Power Playrooms

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First Valentine’s Day With Baby – A Special Time for Hugs and Kisses

Valentine’s Day has always been special for you and your partner. You may get a bunch of beautiful flowers or a box of chocolate truffles, or go out to an intimate dinner with champagne and candlelight.

But now your two has become three (or more) as baby enters the scene and the holiday takes on a whole different meaning. After all, is there anything that makes you love your partner even more than catching him making goo-goo eyes at your baby and singing a little tune while diaper-changing? Or finding baby snuggled on his chest while they both catch some well-deserved ZZZZs?

You know your expectations about the holiday have shifted if the idea of finding a sitter and trying to zip yourself into a non-maternity dress for a night out is anything but dreamy. Parenthood has changed your whole idea of romantic: finishing an entire meal together without being interrupted by baby’s cries now qualifies. So perhaps it’s time to find some new traditions. After all, Valentine’s Day with a new baby is truly a celebration of love and the best moments are just being together.

Here are some ideas of ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day now that you are a new parent:

  • Write an annual Valentine’s Day letter not only to your partner, but to your baby, outlining all the ways you love him/her. What makes you smile? What makes your heart sing? Make a special heart box to store them in to read together each year on February 14th.
  • Put that heart-shaped cookie cutter to work on pancakes, cookies, sandwiches, pizza and more. As soon as baby is old enough, let him or her get in on the action making a delicious mess with frosting, heart-shaped sprinkles and more. Then let the feast begin.
  • Once baby is walking, leave a trail of pink and red cut-out hearts that lead to a Valentine’s Day treat (perhaps a new huggable stuffed animal or heart-shaped pillow) or even to the breakfast table adorned with balloons, heart-shaped pancakes and pink strawberry-flavored milk.
  • Make a keepsake hug. Dip baby’s chubby little hands in washable paint and stamp on card stock with a little love message. Do this every year for a holiday timeline of baby’s growth.
  • Of course you hug and kiss baby every day, but make it special on Valentine’s Day. Have a morning snuggle hug fest in bed where you shower the family with love. Dress in heart-inspired outfits, eat some sweets and take silly selfies while you engage in a family hug. After all, the first hug they ever feel is from you.

Even though your baby is the new love in your life, don’t overlook your partner. Try to carve out some time today when it’s just the two of you…even if most of your talk is about the amazing new member of the family.

I always encouraged my husband to forgo the store-bought cards and write me some sentimental sweet nothings of his own to let me know what I really mean to him. I believe that something from the heart is always best. So grab a pen and remind your partner why you are together. And be sure to mention how appreciative you are for the wonderful things he or she does for you and baby. Now that’s love!

Image: Getty

 

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Baby looking up at mom

How Your Baby Sees the World

By WhatToExpect.com

 

As your baby leaves the dark, quiet comfort of your womb and enters the bright, noisy world around her, just what can she see? The short answer: Not much — but that will change, and fast. In the first six months of life, baby’s eyesight develops rapidly, since vision is closely linked to brain development. So as your baby’s brain matures in leaps and bounds, so does her eyesight. While it does, enjoy seeing baby take it all in as she reaches a few key milestones in visual development.

Birth to a few weeks old


In utero, baby’s eyes begin growing at around week 4 of pregnancy and can perceive light at around week 16. But a fetus’s eyelids remain closed until 26 weeks gestation — and even then, the view from the womb is pretty limited. That means when your baby enters her newly expanded world, it’s a kaleidoscope of fuzzy images to her unaccustomed eyes. At first, the farthest your baby will be able to see is the distance from your arms to your face (about 6 to 10 inches).

Some newborns do look directly at your face after birth (“Hi, Mom”), while others keep those peepers tightly squeezed shut (“Excuse me, I was sleeping!”). Both reactions are perfectly normal: While some infants naturally focus on faces and objects, others need a little more time to adjust to the newly expanded world around them. Your own baby’s pace will depend on everything from her gestational age to her individual personality.

Either way, for the first month baby’s eyes will, for the most part, be closed as she sleeps for long stretches of time. When her eyes do open, she’s can’t yet track moving objects. Still, babies of this age generally do love looking at faces — so make sure to give your little one lots of up-close-and-personal time with you and other caretakers.

2 to 3 months old


At this age, some babies may start to recognize faces (and treat you to a first smile) — but their sight is still fairly blurry. Babies who are born prematurely may take a bit longer to focus on your face, but don’t fret: They will catch up developmentally. In all likelihood your baby will be checking you out in detail in no time.

While experts aren’t certain of how much color newborns can see, this is when they’re likely able to begin noticing different hues.

3 to 4 months old


Has baby begun watching closely from her bouncy seat as you cook dinner on the far side of the room? That’s because around this age, babies can see anywhere from several feet in front of them to all the way across the room.

By 4 months old, your baby can also track faster movements with her eyes, perceive depth and even grab at moving objects — although her hand-eye coordination may not yet allow her to actually hold onto the target of her attention.

Perhaps the most exciting part of baby’s sight at this stage is that the fovea (the part of the eye that controls the ability to see details) has developed — which means your little one can finally recognize your face with much more clarity.

5 to 7 months old


By now, your baby’s vision has nearly fully developed. Babies can notice differences in shades of color and may even begin favoring specific ones. (Hint for toy-buying: many babies show a preference for red and blue).

12 months old


As you light the candles on her first birthday cake, your baby is finally able to see as much as the singing adults around her.

Stimulating Your Baby’s Sight


The best ways to improve your baby’s eyesight are simple — you may already do many of these naturally:

• Chat baby up. When you’re breast- or bottle-feeding, your face is close enough for even the youngest baby to see — and it’s also conveniently one of her favorite things to observe. So talk to her while you look her in the eyes — you’ll bond and help her begin to learn language, too.
• Hang a mobile. Babies love images with contrasting colors and patterns. So until your little one is able to sit up (at about month 3 or 4), securely hang a colorful, patterned mobile high above her crib or bouncy seat. (Just make sure to remove it as soon as she can sit to prevent her from becoming entangled).
• Mirror her. Another visual hit with babies: mirrors. While they can’t recognize themselves until about month 15, they do love seeing the changing image reflected back at them as they move.
• Bring baby along for the ride. Bring baby in a forward-facing carrier as you go about your day — whether you’re taking a walk around your neighborhood, shopping for groceries or just brushing your teeth. Describe what you see to boost her verbal development at the same time she’s observing the world around her.

Signs of Vision Problems


While many infant vision problems are only detectable by a pediatrician or an ophthalmologist, you can take a few steps to ensure early intervention on any potential issues:

• Snap photos. While “red eye” isn’t the look you’re going for, this nuisance actually shows that baby’s eyes are correctly refracting light. Pictures that show whiteness in baby’s pupils, on the other hand, indicate a condition known as leukocoria, which may signal serious problems (such as a cataract or a tumor) that require attention from a pediatrician right away.
• Watch for focus. In the first few months, it’s normal for a baby’s eyes to sometimes seem like they’re looking in different directions (a condition known as strabismus). However if this continues past 4 months, take your child to a pediatrician for an evaluation. Same goes if your baby doesn’t seem to focus on your face and instead appears to be looking through or around you, or if she consistently seems to be looking off to one side.
• Check if she’s interested in objects. If by around 4 months old your baby can’t track objects or by 7 months old doesn’t seem interested in any new visuals you show her (like that bright new toy you just bought), check in with your doctor.
Monitor for other eye issues. Other symptoms that merit a trip to the doctor include bulging eyes, eyes that seem to quickly flutter up and down or side to side, constant redness or wateriness, sensitivity to light, itchy eyes or eye pain.
If you notice any of the above or any other visual issues that don’t seem quite right, don’t hesitate to bring baby to the doctor for an exam.

Your Child’s First Eye Exam


If you’re regularly seeing your baby’s doctor, you should catch any issues early — pediatricians regularly screen babies for vision problems at checkups. If your doctor does notice any potential issues, he may refer you to a pediatric ophthalmologist.
Some children, including preemies, babies with Down syndrome or those with a family history of eye issues, should see an ophthalmologist in the first few months of life. Otherwise, if your child has no risk factors, her first vision screening should be at age 3 and a half or 4 years old, since that’s when kids can verbalize what they see (and a whole lot more) — including what’s on an eye chart.

Updated 9/2/15

WhatToExpect.com

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baby in the bathtub

Different Ways to Bond with Your Baby

Bonding time with your baby isn’t just a beautiful way to experience love with your little one, it’s an important part of your child’s growth and development. “Did you know that lack of proper bonding during even part of a babies development can cause a lifelong battle of bonding with others in an intimate manner?” says Dr. Michele Paiva, a licensed psychotherapist.

“Focus on all activities with your baby as not only tasks such as bath time or sleep time, but opportunities of emotional and mental growth,” says Paiva.

So, “put the phone down, turn off the TV and have intentional time with your baby,” encourages Paiva. Not sure how to get started? Try the following tips for creating special bonding moments for you and your baby.

Make mealtime special

“Bonding and attachment occurs with newborns primary during feeding,” says Dr. Fran Walfish, family relationship psychotherapist and author of “The Self-Aware Parent.”

“Most often it's the mother who feeds by breast or bottle. During feeding, the eye-to-eye sustained, warm, adoring gaze builds attachment between mommy and baby,” adds Walfish.

Read to baby

“When parents talk, read and sing with their babies and toddlers, connections are formed in their young brains. These connections build language, literacy and social-emotional skills at an important time in a young child’s development. These activities strengthen the bond between parent and child,” advises the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Reading to your little one also provides a welcome opportunity to cuddle and be close to one another.

Create bath-time rituals

Tub time is a great time for you to bond with baby. The warmth of a comfortable bath not only relaxes your baby, it gives you an opportunity to talk and practice eye contact with your little one (the latter of which is a skill that will help your child throughout his or her life). “Babies who are given opportunities for safe eye contact — meaning, trusted and loving eye contact — are more apt to be able to carry this habit into their later years and it can relay into confidence and forming healthy friendships and partnerships,” says Paiva.

Diaper-time chats

Diaper time is also another opportunity to actively engage with and communicate with your baby. Make diaper time special by maintaining eye contact with your baby. “Take time to create opportunities for eye contact that is about a foot or so from the newborns eyes … look at them, acknowledge them with a loving tone and expression, and continue to engage,” says Paiva.

Also, use this time to talk with your little one. “It doesn't have to be anything special or magical, you can just narrate what you are doing,” says Paiva.

Massage your baby

We all know how important gentle touch is for not just babies — but all of us. Holding hands, a hug — and massage — all feel good, no matter the age of the giver or receiver. “Loving touch teaches your baby that love is healthy, not harmful,” says Paiva. During massage, both you and baby experience a rise in the hormone oxtocin, the “cuddle chemical.” According to Paiva, this is incredibly powerful and allows trust to develop between parent and child — “and allows the baby to grow and develop into a person who is able to trust.”

Go for a walk

Baby needs a change of scenery, too. Put your child in a stroller and be sure to get outside as often as you can. Venturing outdoors with your little one provides a shared experience for you both. Talk with your baby as you walk and point out plants, people, cars and more. Take breaks to kneel next to baby, make eye contact and connect with her during the course of your walk.

Bedtime cuddling

Prior to naptime and bedtime, be sure to take a few minutes with your baby to cuddle close and wind down before tucking your child into bed. Use this time to sing or read to baby, and enjoy this wonderful opportunity to simply hold your child.

Photo: ThinkstockPhotos.com

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toddler in costume with stuffed bears

Mommy and Baby Halloween Costume Ideas

Dressing up your baby is always fun. But, Halloween presents an extra special opportunity to turn Mommy and Baby time in to something extraordinary when you create complementary costumes that will make you the hit of the trick or treating scene.  Here are some whimsical ideas for crafting Halloween costumes with Mommy/Baby themes.

Using a baby carrier is a simple way to attach baby to your body for easy carrying, while trick or treating or attending a Halloween party. 

A baby carrier provides a snuggly way to create a double costume, just remember to make sure that there are no easily detached parts on any costume that a baby can choke on, and when trick or treating be sure to keep your baby away from candy-filled bowls or bags.

Some imaginative ways to use the mommy, baby carrier combination include:

  • Mom dressed as a spider web/Baby dressed as a spider. Dress in all black and drape fake cobweb material found in craft stores around your body. Put a little black hat on your baby, and firmly attach eight pipe cleaner legs to the baby carrier to create your baby spider, making sure to place the legs out of baby's reach.
  • Mom dressed as a tree/Baby dressed as a monkey. Dress in brown leggings or pants and a brown sweatshirt and sew fake foliage and vines onto your top. You can use a store bought monkey costume for your baby and place baby in the carrier so he looks like he’s climbing up the tree.
  • There are some classic storybook characters that are super cute duos and are easily put together with some craft supplies and a little imagination.

Classic storybook Characters include:

  • Little Bo Beep and her sheep:
    Throw together a prairie costume for yourself with a long skirt, sun bonnet and a basket, and buy or create a sheep costume for your little one with a onesie or footed pajamas and a fleecy blanket or stroller sack. This costume can be especially cute for twins or multiples – instant flock of sheep – just wheel them behind you in a wagon or push them in a stroller.

  • The Princess and the Pea:
    Don a gown and a tiara to become a grown up princess, and put your baby in a green sleep sack with a little green hat. If you’re pushing a stroller you can drape it with a green sheet to create a little pea pod.

  • Goldilocks and the 3 Bears:
    If you’re naturally blond then Goldilocks is a simple costume to pull off. Curl your hair, put on pretty dress with or without an apron, and some knee high socks or tights. A brown fleece sleep sack and a brown hat can turn your baby into a cuddly bear with the addition of a couple of cotton balls glued on as ears. Add two large plush stuffed bears to the stroller or carriage for the two additional bears (or if you have two older kids they can be bears too).

No matter what you decide to make, be sure your baby is dressed appropriately for the weather and is comfortable in whatever getup you’ve chosen for Halloween. Check that there are no loose parts or small accessories that pose a choking hazard, and keep a keen eye on your baby's hands to make sure they aren't grabbing any candy on the sly.  And get the camera ready! You can’t go wrong when selecting a costume that pairs you with your baby – it’s inevitably adorable and treat-worthy.

Image: Getty

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two toddlers dressed as cowboy and cowgirl

Trick or Treat: Cute Halloween Costumes and Outfits for Babies

Fall is my family’s favorite time of the year. My kids love dressing up in costumes and getting lost in a world of imagination and candy. Ever since my firstborn was a baby, we have dressed up as a family. There is nothing cuter than a baby in a Halloween costume or an adorable fall outfit.

Here are some pretty adorable Halloween costume ideas:

  1. Dragon baby attack!
  2. Classic pumpkin costume. Warm and cuddly.
  3. The sweetest kangaroo around.
  4. A fireman and his sidekick.
  5. Every superhero daddy needs a sidekick.
  6. Another sweet animal baby.

Fall not only brings the opportunity to dress your baby in a cute costume, but also in adorable hats, mittens, sweaters, and coats. One of my personal favorite clothing items to dress my children in is handknit sweaters.

Even if your little one is not interested in costume wearing, you can still style a cute Halloween outfit for them!

I also love to accessorize my boys with unique hats, scarves, and mittens. I adore this dinosaur set from Jojo Maman Bebe.

Another Halloween-friendly outfit for the cooler weather is a Little Devil outfit, which is a comfy option for keeping baby warm and happy in costume.

Image: Getty
This article was written by EverydayFamily from Everyday Family and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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Preparing Your Kids to Share a Room

Question: "I'm due to give birth to my second child soon, and he'll be sharing a room with my 2-year-old. How do I make siblings sharing a room work for a toddler and a baby?"

While the transition from living solo to living with your newborn may be difficult for your toddler at first, many kids actually do end up enjoying bunking together. In fact, sharing a room sometimes even helps siblings fall asleep easier, develop a deeper bond with each other and learn valuable lessons about sharing, communicating and problem-solving. In the meantime, you can help create a positive room-sharing experience for your toddler and new baby.

Room-sharing challenges

While siblings sharing a room can conjure up sweet thoughts of them giggling before bedtime and making their own early morning playdates, there are bound to be challenges, especially when one of the children sharing the room is still a baby.You’ll need to:

  • Manage the different temperaments of the young roommates
  • Juggle two different bedtimes
  • Come up with creative ways to give your toddler the space he needs
  • Keep your baby safe from the potential choking hazards of a soon-to-be-preschooler’s playthings
  • Train your toddler to practice acceptable roommate behavior, like being quiet when the baby is sleeping

Despite the challenges involved, two siblings sharing a room can be beneficial for all involved, and there are things you can do while you’re preparing for your baby that can ensure that.

Preparing for room-sharing

Before you get set on your children sharing a room, take time to ease your toddler’s transition from only child to big sibling. Consider keeping your newborn’s crib in your room during the early months. Co-sleeping (or a newborn sharing a room with parents for the first few months) is actually recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics to help prevent SIDS — plus it can help make those middle-of-the-night feedings faster and easier on you and give your older child more time to get used to sharing his life with the new baby in the house.

During those first few months you can talk up your toddler’s new baby sibling in positive ways so he’ll have something to look forward to when the room-share becomes a reality. If possible, wait until your newborn is sleeping five to six hours at a stretch before moving the crib into the room with your toddler.

Tips for smoothing the transition

To make the start of your children sharing a room go more smoothly, try these tips:

Give your toddler the lowdown.

Explain that you’ll be coming in to feed the baby at night and that he shouldn’t worry if he hears the baby crying. The first few times your infant does wake him up, just pat your toddler on the back and let him know everything’s okay and he should go back to sleep. After a while, he’ll get used to hearing you come in to feed the baby and he’ll know to settle down and drift off to dreamland on his own.

Stagger bedtimes.

If the baby goes down at 7:00 p.m., delay your toddler’s bedtime a bit with a few extra stories and tuck him in at 7:30 p.m. He’ll appreciate being made to feel like a big boy by staying up later than the baby — and getting to spend extra time with you. To turn that special time into more of a treat, give your toddler a choice of where he wants to read. For instance, let him decide if he wants story time in your bed or a cozy chair in the family room.

Create separate but equal spaces.

Corral smaller items that can be choking hazards, such as miniature cars and tiny blocks, in baskets or bins and keep them on a higher shelf where your toddler can reach them but the baby can't. The baby’s toys can be put on lower shelves or in containers under the crib where he can easily grab them once he starts crawling. Special toddler-only projects, like block castles or train tracks, should be built on a play table in another room so the baby doesn't accidentally knock them down. Additionally, consider letting your toddler have a say in how his new space is decorated to help give him a sense of ownership over his domain.

Turn the experience into a teachable moment.

One of the many upsides of siblings sharing a room is that your toddler gets a chance to shine as the big brother and learn about respect and responsibility. When he wakes up before his baby brother, for example, encourage him to get up quietly and close the door gently before he comes to see you, rather than poking his head into the baby's crib and belting out a wake-up song.

Image:WhatToExpect.com

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Getting Ready for a New Baby Sibling

Got a baby on the way — and not sure how your firstborn will handle it? Here’s how to prep kids for a new sibling.

You might be well-prepared for the arrival of a new baby in the house, but your firstborn has no idea how the changes to come. You can help her prep for a new baby and a brand-new life as a big sibling with these simple games and strategies. They can simultaneously head off feelings of jealousy and resentment, send a message that you’ll love your child just as much as always and get her excited about meeting the new baby.

Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes

Your firstborn will probably find a brand-new sibling really wrinkly and odd-looking. To help manage expectations, pull out some photos of your toddler when she was a newborn. And give the lowdown on some of the things that make infants different from toddlers. For example:
  • Belly buttons: Newborns have an umbilical stump attached to their belly button for a few weeks.
  • Scrunched-up legs: Their legs are scrunched up from all that time spent tucked inside Mommy’s tummy.
  • Floppy necks: Their necks are floppy, and it’ll be awhile before the new baby’s neck is strong enough to support her giant head.
  • Soft spots: New babies have delicate soft spots in their skulls (which is one reason to be extra gentle with her head).
You can also pull out one of the teeny-tiny outfits she wore so she gets a sense of how small she once was.

Burp the Baby

Help your child grasp the concept that newborns don’t actually eat anything at all — they just drink. Tell your child that babies grow from drinking special milk straight from your breasts, or from a bottle that you (or your partner or caregiver) prepare. For fun, demonstrate how to burp a baby by practicing on your tot, who is bound to get a kick out of sitting in your lap and making a great big pretend burp.

The Crying Game

Explain to your child that unlike big kids, a new baby doesn’t know how to tell anyone what he wants or what’s bothering him, so he cries — it’s his way of talking. He might be letting the family know he’s hungry or sleepy, too hot or too cold, that his diaper is dirty, or he’s just plain bored. Together, come up with a list of things your firstborn often asks for, and then have her try to get her message across without using words. Your child will quickly see how hard it might be for a new baby sibling.

Golden Slumbers

It’s hard to believe how much an infant sleeps—especially if you’re a toddler or preschooler who’d rather do anything but lie still in bed. Explain that growing big and strong like her is hard work and that little babies sleep in spurts because they need to eat often. Once your firstborn understands that a new baby sibling needs plenty of shut-eye in order to grow, she’s likely to be more patient and cooperative about your infant's sleep habits. Together make a list of quiet activities she can do with you while the new baby in the house naps.

Snuggle Time

Prepare your child for the fact that you’re going to have to hold the new baby a lot at first. It can be tough for your firstborn to find your arms — and lap — occupied by the new baby all the time. But once you explain why babies need to be held so much, she just might cut you (and the baby) some slack. Hold your child and ask how the rocking motion makes her feel, and then explain that cuddling makes newborns happy because it reminds them of being inside your tummy. Then ask your child to snuggle her stuffed animal so she feels like a rock star, too. And remind your little one that there will still be plenty of hugs for her, too.

Practice Runs

Your firstborn might not be up for a daily list of baby-related chores, but she’s bound to want to lend a little hand as the big sibling — especially if you make her feel like she’s doing something important. Go ahead and promote her to Big Sibling Baby Helper and encourage her to help as much as she’d like. You can do some practice runs before the baby’s arrival. Using a doll as a stand-in, have your child fetch you a diaper or wipes at changing time, a towel at bath time, a pacifier when the “baby” is crying. Rehearse silly songs and funny faces. Both will come in handy when a cranky sibling needs some distraction. Explain that some tasks, such as rocking and feeding, will be performed only by grown-ups, but that she’ll be able to take full charge of a doll’s (or stuffed animal’s) care.

Playtime Rehearsal

Your child might expect a new baby sibling to be ready for action right out of the gate, so it’s a good idea to paint a realistic picture of what life with a newborn baby will be like. Explain that babies don’t do much more than eat, sleep, cry and poop or pee at first, and that they can’t be much of a playmate right away. If you have any video footage of your older child as a newborn, use it to illustrate this point. Together, try out some fun activities to play with baby from day one, such as:
  • Singing or dancing for the new sibling
  • Offering a finger for the baby to squeeze
  • Chatting the baby up using different voices
  • Holding a soft toy for the baby to look at
Tell your firstborn that there’s nothing newborns like more than a human face, especially when it belongs to the best big sibling in the world.

The Art of Being Gentle

Your child may not realize how important it is to be gentle with newborn babies. Explain that babies need a very gentle touch because they’re still so little and not as strong as big kids like her. Have your child practice being gentle with a doll, holding it on her lap and stroking it softly like she’ll soon be doing with the new baby brother. Ask your little one to stroke your arm gently too and say things like, “Gentle feels good! The baby will love when you’re gentle.” Point out areas that your firstborn will have to be especially careful with, like the baby’s eyes, the soft spot on his head, and his nose, ears and mouth.

Handle Gifts with Care

Welcoming a new baby to the house means plenty of presents, and that can be tough for a tot who’s hoping those pretty packages are for her. Before they start to pile up, explain to your child that friends and family want to help celebrate this happy time by giving gifts. Then go to your little one’s room and point out a few presents she got as a baby. You can also practice gracious sibling etiquette by rehearsing what might happen when people come bearing gifts. For example, the baby can’t open them, so he’ll need his big sibling to be a special helper and open his gifts for him. To help your tot get in on the celebrating, plan a gift she can give her new baby sibling, like a painting or drawing to hang near his crib. And don’t forget to give her an “I’m a big sibling” gift when the baby is born.

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