When expecting your second baby, your doubts and queries may decline compared to the anxious first pregnancy. But this time, the challenge is to prepare a toddler for a new baby. The curious little one you already have will fill you with many questions about the new member joining the family.
You probably need to include a lot of adjustments to orient your child towards the arrival of their sibling (1). However, your toddler’s age decides when and how to break the news of another baby’s expected arrival.
Over your nine months of pregnancy, you can take steps to encourage bonding between your toddler and the newborn. Team up with your partner to announce the arrival of your child’s sibling and let them participate in the events that you have planned for the welcome. Keep reading this post on ways to make it exciting for your toddler.
Here Are Some Ways For Preparing your Toddler for New Baby
Here we have mentioned simple ways that will give you an idea on how to prepare your toddler for a new baby. Check them out.
1. Shopping Time:
Before your baby arrives, ask your older child to help you select all the items you’re going to need for your newborn, like clothes, room decoration, toys etc. Your toddler will develop a sense of responsibility and feel that she too can make decisions.
2. Let Your Toddler Feel:
When you can feel your baby’s movement in your tummy, let your toddler feel the movements. Or at times, take your toddler’s hand, place it on your tummy and ask ‘What do you think the baby is doing?’ Wait to have a laugh with funny answers your toddler may come up with!
3. Make Her Understand:
Keep talking to your toddler about how things are going to change (for the better) once the baby arrives. Help her understand how your baby will need a lot of love and attention from everybody. Tell her that your love is only going to grow and not get divided between her and the baby. You may explain that a mother’s love is endless.
4. Tag Her Along:
Consider taking him or her for your doctor visits, let her see the baby on the monitor and hear the heartbeat. Allow him or her to ask questions and express his curiosities.
5. Plan Beforehand:
Once you deliver the baby, ensure you have help to take care of your toddler when you’re at the hospital. When you return from the hospital, let your partner hold the baby, give your toddler a big hug and then introduce the sibling. She will need that hug after she has not seen you for some time and this will make her feel important (2).
6. Make Prior Outing Plans:
In the first week of the arrival of your newborn, they will need your complete attention and you will need time to recover. Plan for a fun week with family members or close friends, like a fun day out with grandmother or uncle or aunty.
7. Involvement Helps A Lot:
Involve your toddler in everyday activities. While changing your baby’s diaper, ask her to bring you the diaper. While giving the baby a bath ask her to bring out the fresh clothes for her sister or brother or bring you the baby lotion. While putting your baby to sleep ask him or her to softly sing a lullaby or a nursery rhyme. While breastfeeding ask her to sit next to you and read out to you or you can read out to her (3).
8. Spend Some Alone Time:
You may be completely tired after putting your baby down to sleep, but spending just 10 minutes with your toddler alone will make her day. Ask her how her day was, play with her or just cuddle. She will appreciate that she has you to herself! Also ensure your toddler gets plenty of alone time with daddy.
9. Show Pictures Of Her As A Baby:
This will be a great bonding session for you and your toddler plus a chance for her to be prepared that the baby is going to be very ‘little’. Also, if your toddler is old enough, you can even ask her to take pictures of the baby.
10. Being Gentle With Baby :
You don’t want your toddler holding your little one’s hands too tight. Explain to your toddler how she needs to be gentle with the new baby. If you have other young babies around (a friend’s baby) you can hold the baby and tell her ‘such an adorable baby, hold her hands gently’ or encouraging words like ‘you’re being so caring with your baby sister, she likes it when you touch her fingers softly, I’m sure you will hold your little sister gently too’.
11. Gift for her too (from baby or from you) :
You may receive a lot of gifts from friends and family for the newborn baby. It would be a great idea to buy a few gifts for your toddler too, so that she doesn’t feel left out. Alternately, you can also give her some gifts from her newborn brother or sister.
12. Positive Speaking:
Speak in a positive light about your baby to your toddler. For example if your toddler insists on going out to the park to play and you are completely drained out, instead of saying ‘Mommy is very tired because your sister didn’t let me sleep all night’ try saying ‘Let’s do this puzzle, I am a bit too sleepy to go out to the park.’
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the best age gap between siblings?
The best age gap between siblings could be two to four years. Such a gap may allow your body to recover before becoming pregnant again. You may also have a decreased risk of low birth weight and preterm delivery (1).
2. How can I encourage sibling bonding?
To promote the bond between your children, encourage them to appreciate and respect each other’s differences. Teach them how to be respectful and positively disagree with each other. Further, remind them often how special the bond between siblings is and how they should work to safeguard it.
You may prepare a toddler for a new baby to avoid jealousy and other negative emotions in them (4). Involve toddlers in shopping for the new baby and explain why newborns need more attention. Instead of restricting, explain to your toddler to be gentle with the baby while holding their hands or being around them since they are really tiny. You may explain that the baby needs to eat and sleep to grow into their playmate and always talk in a positive and pleasing manner.
- What’s the best age gap between siblings?