Preparing your child for a new baby
Toddlers are notoriously self-centred, so he will probably be completely disinterested in the news that he’s about to become a brother. Not only will he not be able to understand what this actually means, he won’t understand how this news affects him. So, if you take a few practical steps, he’ll be as prepared as he’s ever going to be when the big event happens.
- If you’re going to need the cot for your baby, make sure that you move your toddler to a ‘big boy’s bed’ long before you’re going to need the cot – that way, he won’t feel as though he’s been pushed out by the new arrival
- Unless you’re planning to breastfeed both children, start gently weaning your toddler before the baby is born
- Talk about your baby’s arrival to your toddler in the weeks leading up to the birth – even if he doesn’t seem to be listening. As you make changes around the house – get out the bassinette, wash the baby clothes – explain everything to your toddler in simple terms what you’re doing. He may even like to help you
- If you’re planning to change his care arrangements – childcare, nanny, babysitter - after the baby is born, start to introduce these changes gradually so that he’s quite comfortable with the new arrangements by the time you need him to be in his new schedule
- Your toddler finds comfort in familiarity so, even when things change at home, try to make sure that you still do some of the regular things you did together before the baby was born – playgroup, Gymbaroo, meeting friends at the park
When your baby comes home:
- If he’s interested, get your toddler involved in helping you with the baby. He may enjoy passing the towel when you bathe the baby, or entertaining him with songs.
- Some toddlers prefer to ignore the baby – don’t get upset by his lack of brotherly love, or try forcing him to get involved. This is the best way he can cope with the big changes in his life.
- Make sure that all your quality time isn’t spent with the baby – or that all your ‘toddler-time’ isn’t spent telling him what to do. Make sure that you spend a little time each day doing an activity with your toddler.
- When you need to give the baby your attention – breastfeeding, settling – make sure that you’re prepared with some activities your toddler can do at the same time. Puzzles and books are a great way of entertaining a toddler while you’re feeding, and quietly singing together while you’re settling is another.
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