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How To Prepare Your Toddler For A New Baby

How To Prepare Your Toddler For A New Baby

Posted in #toddlers, newborns, pregnancy & birth

Congratulations! You have another baby on the way, and adding another child to your family means twice the fun. But your toddler may not see it that way at first. Although it’s super-exciting becoming a big brother or sister, your child’s going to have to share their number one spot in your life with your newborn. 

As we all know, toddlers are not well known for their sharing abilities! It’s all part of the rich tapestry of family life, however, and should be treated as such: with love, respect and understanding. Here’s how to prepare your toddler for a new baby, with tips on how to introduce your baby to your child, handle jealous behavior and encourage sibling bonding.



How To Prepare Your Toddler For A New Baby

Play It Cool

Once you know your pregnancy is healthy and viable, it’s perfectly fine to start chatting about it with your little one. However, you may feel nervous, on edge and guilty about explaining the changes to your toddler. 

Dropping the news of a new family member is never easy. You may feel like you’re betraying your child by having another baby and diverting attention away from them. Or perhaps you’re worried about whether your toddler will feel any less loved once they’re no longer the only child.

Children learn about the world through your behavior, so stay calm and play it cool. Reprogram your guilt mindset into emphasizing how lucky your family is to be getting a new baby. Be matter of fact about the new arrival and try to introduce the news naturally. There’s no need to sit your toddler down for a 'Big Talk' – just drop it into conversation.


Encourage Questions From Your Toddlers

It is key that the information comes from you. For toddlers aged one or two, time moves slowly and they’ll be pretty clueless about what’s going on. It’ll be more difficult for them to understand, so wait until you’re showing before starting to talk about their new sister or brother. 

With older toddlers and preschoolers aged three to four, you can be more flexible. Give them that extra time to solidify their understanding, ask questions and prepare themselves for a new member for the family. Show them your belly and explain that there’s a baby in your uterus (it’s OK to use the correct anatomical terms). 


Don’t be surprised if your toddler doesn’t show much interest at first. They may be storing the information away to process and will then come out with lots of the same questions over and over again at a later date!

When they do come to you with questions, keep your answers simple, to the point and explain any big words. 



Read Books To Prepare Them For Being A Big Brother Or Sister

Reading books together is our favorite way to explain how your family is growing. It’s not only fun and educational but also carves out that all-important one-on-one time with your toddler before your baby arrives. It’ll normalize the fact they’re gaining a new sibling, helping them feel less alone, and support them to ask questions.


Show Your Toddler Pictures And Videos Of Them When They Were A Baby

This is a good opportunity to show your toddler what they were like as an infant, and explain what mommy and daddy had to do to look after them. You can also introduce the idea that you’ll be spending time caring for the new baby, but reassure your child you’ll be there for them, too!


Role Play What It’s Like To Have A Baby In The House

Another way to showcase how family life will change is through role play. Your toddler will love using their toys and dolls to act out what it will be like to play with their new brother or sister. You’ll need to explain that baby will be too small to play with for a while but they’ll need lots of love and cuddles. Older toddlers may also enjoy pretending to change, bath, feed and put their toys to bed. 


Visit A Friend Who Has A Baby

This is a great way to bring the concept of a new baby to life. Your toddler will be able to understand what’s coming and actually see the baby, instead of your growing bump. After the visit, you can explain that soon you’ll have your very own baby. This will get the cogs in your toddler’s mind turning, so they can start to imagine a baby at home.


Teach Your Child To Wait

Soon you’re going to be dealing with two small people instead of one. In the early days, that means the newborn usually comes first. Get ahead by teaching your toddler to wait. Keep them busy with something engaging while they're waiting. If they need to wait for the pizza to be done, for example, tell them you’re going to set the timer. Get them to play a game, do a puzzle or make some art while they wait.


Introduce The Concept Of Sharing

When one becomes two, your toddler will soon realize they don’t have you all to themselves. Sharing’s a tricky concept for a toddler to grasp, so be sure to praise any behavior that resembles sharing – even showing you something qualifies. 

You could introduce them to the new stroller they’re going to share with their sibling. Show them where their baby brother or sister will be and make a big song and dance about their special seat. Take a look at the UPPAbaby Vista V2 stroller, which expands to contain both your older child and newborn – just add the toddler seat and/or buggy board.


Spend One-On-One Time Together

Children crave one-on-one time with mom and dad. Uninterrupted quality time, such as a routine bedtime story, shows them you love them and are there for them. Carve out this special time together and ensure it becomes a daily ritual your toddler can find comfort and security in once baby arrives.


Talk About What Happens When The Baby’s Ready To Come

Talk to your toddler about what happens when you go into labor. Explain to them that you will be separated for a while while the baby is being born. Reassure them that they will be well taken care of by daddy and/or close family members and let them know who they will be staying with. Tell them you’ll be able to stay in touch on FaceTime.


How To Introduce Your Toddler To Your New Baby

Give Your Toddler An Enthusiastic Greeting

Depending on where you’ve had your baby, you may have been separated from your toddler for a while. If possible, prepare for their arrival. Make sure both you and your baby have been fed and try to lay your baby down in their bassinet or crib in the same room so you can focus on your toddler. Greet them enthusiastically and explain how much you’ve missed them.

After you’ve made them feel special, you can introduce them to their new brother or sister – ‘Here’s your new brother/sister!’ Make a point of using the baby’s first name to start giving them their own personality and building your toddler’s empathy towards them. 


Pay Attention To Both Siblings

Because parents want to avoid the issue of jealousy, they sometimes don’t give much attention to the baby. Allow your new normal to be showing love to both children. Don’t be tempted, for example, to hide the sleeping newborn in the other room.

Start as you mean to go on and behave as a cohesive family. Nurse or bottle feed your baby in the living room, for example, while your toddler is playing next to you. Have family meals while the baby is in their cradle nearby. Keep your hands free for your toddler by placing your newborn in an infant carrier. Try to send the message that you are there for both of them. 


Acknowledge Your Toddler’s Big Feelings

Your child’s feelings about the new baby may fluctuate. One minute they might be super-excited; the next they may say it’s time to send their new sister or brother back to the hospital. Or, they may be unable to articulate their feelings at all. Being clingy and whiny are all signs your toddler is jealous of the new baby.

If they’re stressed and finding it hard to cope with the new changes, don’t ignore their discomfort or tell them off (even though you’re sleep deprived and may be finding it hard to cope yourself!). Here’s how to talk to them about their worries.

  • Sit with them and reflect their feelings back to them so they know they've been heard and understood.
  • Validate their big feelings and tell them it’s OK to be upset, angry and sad.
  • Acknowledge that change is hard, but that you’re there for them.
  • Reassure them that a new baby coming into your lives does not diminish your love for them.



    How To Encourage Sibling Bonding

    Consider A Gift From The Newborn To Your Toddler

    Experts are split on the practice of preparing a gift from the newborn to the older sibling. Some say it will encourage affection towards the new baby, while others believe too many favors put unnecessary pressure on the acceptance of the new sibling. 

    Think about it in the context of your older child. If they’ll be delighted with a gift from their new tiny friend, go for it – it could be a special moment. But if you have an inkling this may set a precedent for demands for further gifts from your newborn, think again! 


    Let Your Toddler Help 

    Many older children enjoy baby-related chores such as changing a diaper or putting clothes in the washing machine. Or you can let them entertain their tiny sibling in the bath. These types of day-to-day activities empower them to feel like big kids. It also encourages empathy from your toddler towards their infant sibling. Seeing their newborn brother or sister as a real person with needs and feelings supports the development of their emotional intelligence and deepens their empathy skills. 

    We’re here to help you on the bumpy road of parenthood! Read more about your toddler’s development and behavior

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