Are you currently pregnant? Are you looking for ways to prepare your toddler for the new sibling that they will be receiving? Preparing your toddler for a new baby does not have to be as difficult as you might think.
A new baby is going to mean a lot of changes in your household. Both for you and your toddler. Luckily these changes don’t have to happen all of a sudden. Thank goodness for those nine long months of pregnancy. Those nine months allow for an abundance of time for you to use while preparing your toddler for the lifestyle change that will occur in their household when the baby arrives.
If you have very young children then it is probably a good idea to wait for the pregnancy announcement until closer to your delivery time. This does not mean that you shouldn’t be preparing them sooner though. Preparation for a new sibling can be done with many very simple things. Toddlers are very intrigued with babies. So if you have any friends or family members that have babies it would be a good idea to let your toddler spend time with the baby. Toddlers love to ooohhh and aaahhhh over small babies. Especially when they see you doing it. My toddler will even giggle and kiss pictures of babies in magazines.
Here are a few things you could do before you announce the pregnancy to your toddler.
If your toddler is still using the crib and you would like to use the same crib for the new baby, then it is a good idea to make the transition to a toddler bed long before the baby arrives. If you wait until there is a screaming needy baby in the house then your toddler could feel like all the changes are because of the baby and in turn start to resent his or her newest sibling. Toddlers are still so very young and they just don’t understand that this little baby is just an innocent bystander. So if you want to transition your toddler to another bed (or bedroom) it is a good idea to do it several months before the new baby arrives. By doing this you will be helping your toddler become very adjusted to the new bed long before the baby arrives. This will make for easier bedtimes for a tired new mommy to deal with in the months to come.
Another useful thing to do with your toddler before the birth of their new sibling is to familarize them with things that the baby will do and need. Things like diapers, baby clothes and even the bassinet. Definitely have the nursery and bassinet set up ahead of time so that your toddler will get use to seeing these items in their everyday life. It will help familarize your toddler ahead of time instead of your toddler feeling like the baby is imposing on their space. In retrospect, if the new baby is going to be using your toddler’s crib, you may want to wait on setting the crib up again. Once your toddler is in a new bed, take down the crib and put it away until right before it is needed. This way your toddler won’t feel like they were forced out of their bed by the new baby.
With my older girls I liked to share television programs with them that had a lot of babies and/or baby activities on them. For example, A Baby Story on the TLC channel was a favorite show of our’s each time I was pregnant. There are many television shows available that show things that babies do and the everyday life of having a newborn. For us, these shows introduced my children to the idea of having a baby and exposed them to what babies sound like and some of the things that babies do.
A baby doll is an excellent item to give to your toddler when preparing them for the birth of a new baby. It doesn’t matter if your toddler is a boy or a girl, a baby doll is a wonderful toy for them. You can show your toddler how to diaper and hold and love a baby just by giving them a baby doll. You can ask your toddler what they think a baby will do and what they might like to do with the baby. Your toddler may have a hard time communicating what they are thinking so just take your time with them and let them try their best at explaining the things they are concerned about.
Books are a great accessory to use when preparing your toddler for a new baby. There are many many books on the market directed towards young children on the subject of a new baby arriving. Visiting your local library should reap you a huge bounty of fun and easy to understand books and if your toddler is anything like all three of my girls, they will LOVE the special storytime with mommy. This could also be a great time to introduce a daily storytime with your toddler if you haven’t already. This can be a time of day that your toddler will come to expect and will know that this is their special mommy-time. Having this moment with you everyday can help your toddler adjust easier once the baby arrives.
Definitely allow your toddler to be a part of your pregnancy. Let them feel the baby’s kicks. Tell your toddler that it is their little brother or sister saying hello to them. Tell your toddler that they are going to be a wonderful big brother or sister. Boost that self-esteem in your toddler. Toddlers LOVE to be praised! Let them rub, hug and kiss your growing tummy. Your doctor appointments can be a fun time for your toddler. They can share in your excitement over seeing the baby on an ultrasound. Your toddler can enjoy listening to the baby’s heartbeat with you. Toddlers can see and feel the excitement in your family. So it is a great idea to let your toddler share in that excitement.
There are many many things that you can do to prepare your toddler for a new baby. The most important thing to remember is to take your time. Go slowly. A toddler needs time to adjust and come to an understanding of the things going on around them. Going slowly and allowing your toddler to move at their own pace will help with feelings of jealousy that may arise after the baby’s arrival. You do not have to announce you pregnancy to them in the beginning. As a matter of fact, it’s suggested that you wait until your toddler starts noticing your growing tummy. But also make sure that the news comes from you and not from some well-meaning friend or family member. In the mean time though you can do any of the above suggestions without really announcing the impending arrival to your toddler. I, personally, started asking my kids in the beginning what they would think of having a new baby brother or sister. What kinds of fun things did they think they would be able to do with a sibling and even what they would think about dirty diapers. All of these before my kids even knew there was a baby already on the way. Then closer to the births I would let them know that a baby WAS coming soon. Since their curiousity had already been peaked by my questions and conversations with them, the annoucement was always met with excitement from them. Still to this day I love looking back on home videos and listening to the older girls talking about a baby coming. Such excitement and amazement in those little blue eyes.
A new baby is a wonderful blessing to your family. But keep in mind that the pregnancy can be a big learning experience for everyone, including your rambunctous toddler. Enjoy these last days alone with your toddler because soon your toddler will be a big brother or big sister and a whole new stage begins in your life and their’s.