One of the most common questions that I see in the online mom world includes the topic of preparing a toddler for a new baby! If you have had a chance to look at the About Me section of this website, you have probably noticed that at one point in time I was in full preparation mode for a baby on the way with a toddler at home! Not only was preparation my focus, but as you can guess, I had been doing research and talking to loads of people as well. So take a look below and get some benefit from the many many hours I poured into this topic! 🙂
Preparing A Toddler for a New Baby
1 Help your toddler become familiar with the baby’s name!
This one was very important for my family. My toddler wasn’t two yet when I found out I was pregnant, but over time he became super familiar and almost attached to the baby’s name before he realized it was a name. He would say it all the time. So when he finally meets his baby sister, there will already be some familiarity, taking the shock out of such a huge family change for our little ones. So talk to your little ones throughout every day.
2 Find children’s books
Welcoming a new brother or sister, taking care of a new baby, etc. For the past few months, I have been reading a great book to my son before bedtime called Big Brother Daniel. The book has repetition, which is great. And in my case, the was spot on because the little boy was is being introduced to his little sister. There are loads of other great books out there to read as well, and they are not hard to find.
3 Tell them stories and show them pictures about when they were a little baby!
You will be surprised how fast your toddler picks up on the idea that babies exist in the world and they are not one anymore! Making this fact a positive thing now will hopefully reduce any possibilities of jealousy or regression once you bring the new addition to the family. Every time my toddler sees a baby picture of himself now, he yells “baby!!”. LOL
4 Foster close relationships with other adults
This one was very important to me as a Stay at Home/Work from Home mom. I was used to it being just my son and I for most most days of the week. However, fostering other close relationships with adults in your child’s life can be a HUGE help. If your toddler is able to spend time with daddy, grandparents, or other family/friends without your presence, the benefits would not only show up while you are “away” giving birth, but also when the new baby arrives. I was fortunate enough to have my mom and dad close by so that they could build a close relationship outside my husband and I. If you are in the position to do that same, please give that some consideration!
5 Keep a consistent routine
This will help your toddler feel more in control once the baby comes home and inevitably some of the familiar aspects of life start to change. My husband would tell you that I LOVE routines, just as much as my toddler does. He eats and sleeps at a certain-ish time, has a great bedtime routine, a compact bedtime routine on late nights, and pretty much is aware of what is happening or going to happen throughout the day. Of course we must always be flexible, toddler life can be crazy, but it allows my toddler to feel in control. The great thing about this is that I am able to give my parents a routine they can follow thats give him familiarity when I am gone, and when the baby is here I will make adjustments where necessary. It’s a win-win for everyone!
6 Tackle any major changes in your toddler’s life before baby
OR after everyone has adjusted to the new baby. For example, potty training, being introduced to daycare, or even moving your toddler out of the crib right before the new sibling comes can be too much of an adjustment for your tot. Right now, just weeks before my baby girl arrives, I am focused only on involving and preparing my son for what’s to come.
7 Present the new baby as a special gift sent just for them.
They will have a best friend for life. Talk about their friends who have siblings and how they always have someone to play with and someone to help them when they need it.
8 Involve your toddler along the way!
I know it can be nerve racking sometimes (haha) but if possible, take your toddler/children to a few appointments with you. Evening visiting the hospital will create some involvement and familiarity, which is key! Seeing an ultrasound and hearing others talk about a baby has been very helpful. Include them in helping with diaper changes, feeding the new baby, etc. Not forcing, but allowing your tot to decide when he wants to help is key.
9 Make sure to communicate with your toddler feelings
Toddlers understand much more than we think they do! I talk to my son about how mommy still loves him the same even when the baby comes, how the baby may cry or eat often, and even how he will still be able to have his own toys and space. This conversation can be continued will after the baby arrives!
10 Give toddler the same attention
I have already put ALL of my family on noticed to please address my toddler before you address the new baby! haha. I will even take it a step further and make sure that someone else is holding the baby when he gets to see mom again for the first time! It is something simple to do to help the transition. A great idea is to focus on fun and creative activities with your children like the one found in this post.
11 A gift from the baby
Now this advise I received from a great pediatrician as well as many other experienced parents. This gift will be “from the baby”. Awww, how adorable 🙂
Video is a also a great tool! Here is a cute video about becoming an older sibling.
I would say if you can try some of these tips, you will have created some healthy expectations for your toddler when it comes to welcoming an addition to the family. However, at the end of the day, remember that no matter what, everything will work out fine! Even if your toddler goes through a stage where he doesn’t like this new change, this to shall pass! Parenting is a challenge and at the end of the day, if things don’t go out way, we make the adjustments and keep it moving.
Please share below if you have any tips or advice! I would love to get some input.