How To Prepare Your Toddler For The New Baby
One of my main focuses during my pregnancy is making sure that my daughter feels excited about becoming a big sister. No parent wants their child to feel left out, excluded, jealous or resentful. While there’s no way to fully prepare a toddler for the arrival of their new sibling, there are some effective practices to keep them feeling positive and secure during the family’s transition.
Here are some ways to prepare your toddler for a new baby.
Don’t Just Talk. Listen!
One of the most important things to do is keep the lines of communication open. Just like any relationship, communication with your toddler isn’t about talking to them. More importantly, connect with your toddler. Let them know that you’re listening. Take in everything they are doing and engage in direct eye contact to help them feel secure when sharing their feelings and concerns. Ask your toddler detailed questions. If they have the vocabulary available, encourage them to name their emotions. If your toddler does not have the words to express themselves yet, then look to their facial expressions, body language, and behavior for clues on how they are feeling. Remember to show empathy towards their feelings. Don’t forget to reassure them that the relationship you have with each other is secure and won’t ever change.
Try To Form A Bond Now
Invite your first born to feel baby kicks. Let your child know that their baby sister or brother can hear them and ask them to talk to your belly. Sharing their day at school or telling a silly joke to their sibling is a great way to start an early bond between them. It can be quite entertaining for mom and dad to listen to, as well.
Allow Them To Be Involved
Everyone likes to feel like they had a hand in making a decision—even your toddler. “Where do you think the crib should go? “Or “Which color onesie should we buy baby?” Questions like “Do you think your baby sister/brother would like this?” are great ways to get your toddler involved. Once baby is born take your toddler’s involvement one step further by giving them a role—if they want it. Maybe they grab the diaper and wipes when baby needs a change, or perhaps you allow your toddler to pick out baby’s pajamas every night. These type of exercises help your toddler feel included.
Don’t Make Any Swift Changes
If you need to tackle any significant changes like potty training, moving out of a crib into a toddler bed, or bringing on a new nanny/babysitter, do it as early in your pregnancy as possible. You don’t want your toddler to experience too many changes at once, and specific changes too close to baby’s arrival could cause your toddler to build resentment.
Spend Extra Time Together
Put aside special time for you and your toddler to hang out, every day. Whether you have twenty minutes or an hour, that one-on-one time is priceless for both your little one and you. Plan fun adventures or trips outside of the home. Babymoon together! It doesn’t have to be a long or fancy trip but get your family on the road for a little getaway. Also, don’t forget to make time for cuddling on the couch and reading books. This simple act is one of the best ways to bond with your child.
Talk About “The Big Day”
Has your toddler met your birthing team? Do they feel comfortable around your doctor, midwife or doula? Do they know where you will go to deliver the baby? Talk about what the big day might look like. Will your toddler be present at the birth? Let them know ahead of time who and where they will be during the delivery.
You might even consider having your toddler be a part of the whole birthing process. If that’s the case, let them know what to expect. Talk about the loud sounds mama might make. Be honest and explain that some moments might be really painful but that mama and baby are not in danger. Depending on your child’s age (4 and up) you may consider showing them videos of animals giving birth. If you think they are ready for it, you might show them a real baby birthing video, as well.