Keeping your relatives involved in your toddler’s life when they live far away

If your family is an important part of your life, or your partner is close to their family, making extended family members a part of your family’s lives may be important to you, especially as Baby grows.

If your relatives aren’t around physically that often, they can still be a part of Baby’s life – you’ll just have to work a little harder at it. Routine is important for toddlers, so beginning as soon as you can, talking about your family as a part of your routine is a great way to help Baby start to think about them. You can start by bringing them up at dinner during conversation, “Oh Uncle Ed loves chicken nuggets too!” or maybe “Your Aunt Linda makes the best chocolate cake and you’ll get to try it next weekend!”

Hi-tech solutions

For tech-savvy relatives, there’s also the option of getting them a bit more actively involved. Apps for video chatting, sending pictures back and forth, and even old-fashioned talking on the phone can help Baby start to get to know her extended family. She will probably love holding your phone or sitting in your lap while chatting with relatives. Having a few pieces of her artwork ready to show your relatives can help keep Baby interested in talking to a screen. Prepare your relatives ahead of time, having them primed to talk about Baby’s favorite subjects, or even having a copy of her favorite book there to read to her can help keep her attention for longer.

Snail-mail and analogue

Everyone loves getting mail – even young toddlers love to tear open envelopes, especially if they find brightly-colored cards inside. Having your relatives send musical cards or, as Baby ages, cards your child can color or put stickers on, can help foster early good associations with a relative’s name, or keep someone who hasn’t visited in a while fresh in her mind. Once Baby understands that someone wrote that card just for her, you can also have her make a card to send back to that relative. These early “pen pal” type of correspondences will help build a relationship for your children and your relatives.

The most obvious ways to incorporate your relatives that don’t live nearby into your toddler’s every day routines are to include framed photographs around the house, especially ones that include your toddler and the relative. “This is Aunt Mary visiting you when you were just four days old!” Helps to give context to a toddler; even if they can’t remember their aunt, there’s pictures of them involved in her life throughout the home.

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