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Five Ways to Prepare Your Toddler for a New Baby

Awaiting the birth of a new baby is a such a beautiful and exciting time. When you’ve got a toddler at home with you it’s not unusual to feel worried about how your first-born will cope with the changes once three becomes four. We give you our best tips on how to prepare your toddler for the birth of their brother or sister.

Don’t Make Them Wait Too Long

Nine months is such a long long time in toddlers life. In fact, it may be almost half their life. Think about how long your pregnancy felt to you, then think about how a toddler interprets time. So try not to share the news of your pregnancy too early. Letting them know around half way is often a good time to tell them, as there will be physical changes with your body and they will be able to clearly see the baby growing. Letting them feel the baby kick will help them understand that there is a real person in there, who is busy growing so they are ready to come and meet their big brother or sister.

Involve Them in the Preparation

Let them help you choose some things for the baby’s bedroom, or perhaps let them buy the baby a new outfit. Other purchases that they can help with include some very young baby toys, or a special teddy. If they are old enough you could take them along to one of your antenatal appointments and let them hear the baby’s heart beat or watch the baby on the TV.

Use Books and Storytelling to Get Them Used to the Idea

There are plenty of wonderful books written for small children that introduce them to the idea of a new brother or sister. Having these on rotation from the library is a great way for them to get comfortable with the idea of a new person moving in with them.

You can also retell the story of when you met your baby brother or sister. If you’re the youngest, tell them a story about when you met your big sister or brother for the first time. Story telling is such a powerful tool, and can help children make sense of the world.

Expose Them to Babies

You could start by showing your toddler photos of them when they were born, so they get an idea of what the new baby might look like. Through this process talk them through what’s happening in the picture, and give them context for the new baby. For example: “That’s you having a drink of milk from Mummy’s breast. When the new baby comes, Mummy will feed them the same way”. Or “That’s Daddy changing your nappy. Mummy and Daddy will change the new baby’s nappy too, and maybe you could help with that.”

If you have a friend or family member that has a small baby, perhaps pay them a visit so they can see what a new baby looks like in real life. It will help them see that new babies are very sleepy and don’t do very much at first.

Make Plans for the Birth

If you are not intending on having your baby at the birth, make plans around who will look after them and let them know what will be happening. You could do a few practice visits to your friend or family member’s house and explain that this is where they will go when you go to the hospital to have the baby. Perhaps go and visit the hospital before hand so they have a clear picture of where you will be when the time comes.

All this planning will help you also. As a parent navigating a new path to more than one child can be worrying. But some thoughtful planning with everyone’s involvement will make the transition smoother.

 

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