Going from one child to two can be a difficult transition. Especially when your child is a toddler who might not fully understand what’s happening. But luckily there are ways to help prepare your toddler for a new baby and make the transition easier.
When I was pregnant with my second son I was so worried about how my toddler would react to having a new baby in the house. Would he have a hard time sharing his space and his parent with his new little brother? Would he become resentful of his brother?
Luckily he LOVES being a big brother and adores his little brother. I attribute a lot that to the fact that we were able to find different ways to ease his transition from only child to big brother.
So what can you do to help your toddler prepare for a new baby? Below are 7 tips and trips that will help make the transition easier not only for your toddler but for the entire family!
1. Make changes in advance
Having a new baby in the house can be a big shock to a child who not use to sharing their space and their parents with someone else. This has the potential to lead to resentment and other negative feelings towards their new sibling.
One way to help avoid this and ease the transition is the make any changes to your child’s routine or sleeping arrangements before the baby arrives.
If you are going to be moving your child out of their crib and into a big kid bed, then do so as early as possible. Make the transition about your toddler growing up and becoming a big kid. Celebrate the transition as a new cool thing they get to do instead of making them feel that they are getting kicked out of their crib because the new baby needs it.
The same goes for anything that you will now need to use for the new baby such as a car seat or stroller. This way when the baby comes they will not feel like they are being displaced or cast aside.
2. Talk about the baby and what it means to become a big brother or big sister
If your child is old enough to understand that they are getting a new sibling, talk to them as much as possible about the new baby. Tell your child the new baby’s name and start referring to the baby by that name.
Talk about how things will change or be done differently so your toddler knows what to expect. The unknown is a scary thing for young kids. You can reduce a lot of that fear and anxiety by letting them know what they can expect when their new baby brother or sister comes how. Remember to eassure your child that a new baby won’t change how much you love them.
Don’t forget to talk to your child about how much fun it will be to have a new sibling! Tell them all the fun things they will get to do. Emphasize the positive aspects of being an older brother or sister and how great they will be at it.
3. Encourage independence early
If you can encourage independence in your toddler before the arrival of the baby life will be a lot easier for both of you. What you consider independent is going to be different for each child. It will all depend on their age and ability level.
You can encourage independence in your child by teaching them how to do a few of the following things without your help.
- Put on their own shoes or jacket
- Get dressed on their own
- Cleaning up their toys after play time
- Helping to clear their plate after mealtime
Teaching your child to do even very simple tasks is surprisingly helpful. Not only will your child feel more “grown-up” but it will free up time for you.
Another very important aspect of teaching independence is establishing an independent play time. First, determine the best place for independent play time. Our son uses his bedroom but a playroom or similar space works just as well. If your child is still in a crib they can start working on independent play time in their crib or pack and play with a few of their favorite toys.
Start slowly with just a few minutes then add up to the amount of time you feel is age appropriate. The important thing is to get your child comfortable and use to playing alone without your help or your presence. This will give you time to focus on the baby or get some much needed quiet time to yourself.
4. Get a baby doll
Getting a baby doll for your toddler is a great way to make them feel involved in the process and make the idea of a new baby more concrete. You can show your toddler how you hold a baby and that they shouldn’t touch the baby’s face or eyes.
You can also teach your child how to take care of their baby doll by using a fake bottle or putting a diaper on them. Once the baby arrives you can have your child “feed” their baby doll while you’re feeding the baby and make them feel like they are involved.
My son’s autism therapist introduced a baby doll into this therapy about a month before my due date. It was so helpful for him to have time to “practice” with a baby doll. By the time his new brother arrived, he knew how he should properly and gently touch a baby and had a better understanding of what it would be like to have a real baby around.
If possible take your toddler with you to a doctors appointment where you will be receiving an ultrasound. This will help give them a better understanding of what is going on. And show them that there’s a real baby in there.
If that’s not on option then you can give your toddler an ultrasound picture of there new baby brother or sister. My son loved carrying around the ultrasound picture and showing off his baby brother. And whenever he would walk by the fridge and see other ultrasound pictures we had hanging up he would point and say mommy there’s my little brother!!
6. Read books about becoming a sibling
There are TONS of books out there about becoming a big brother or sister. There an awesome way to help your toddler know what to expect and what it means to be an older sibling.
Some of my favorites are:
7. Let your child know what will happen when you go into labor.
The day you go into labor is going to be exciting, but also very busy and filled with anxiety. Take time to talk to your child about what will happen when you leave for the hospital. Let them know who will be watching them, where they are staying (at home or at someone else house) and how long you will be gone.
Being away from you may be difficult if it is not something they are used to doing. If that is the case you can find a moms morning our program, hire a babysitter, or have a friend watch them a few times before the baby arrives. This will allow your toddler to get comfortable being away from you even if only for short periods of time.
If your toddler will be spending the night at someone else house have them help pack their own overnight bag. Take them for a visit to show them where they will be staying if its somewhere they aren’t familiar with it.
Now that we are preparing to welcome baby number three I find myself again using a lot of those same things to prepare our son to be a big brother for the second time! Are there any other tips or tricks you used to prepare your toddler for their new sibling? I would love to hear them in the comments below!!!
If you enjoyed this post then you might also like some of my other posts on pregnancy!