If you are having a second baby and you have a toddler or young child already, you’ll have realised that life is soon going to be very different!
Having gone through pregnancy, labour and childbirth before, thankfully, you know this time round what to expect. But once your new baby is born, the dynamics at home are going to be a little different! You’ll have two children to manage and it’ll be important to ensure that your toddler still gets attention even when you are busy with the new baby.
So how can you prepare your toddler for the impending arrival of baby number two?
Eight ways to prepare your toddler for a new sibling
I believe there is much you can do to prepare your child and I’d recommend that you start early.
1. Talk about the new baby
Build excitement and anticipation about your new baby by talking to your toddler about their future brother or sister.
Even if they are very young, your toddler will see your tummy growing during the pregnancy and will likely be able to grasp the concept of you having a baby.
If not, role play - use a toy doll as a prop and place it inside your jumper to illustrate that you are carrying around a real baby inside your tummy. There’s no need to go into how the baby got there or how they will come out!
2. Encourage a positive relationship from the start
Unless you have other older children, your toddler may well have enjoyed your undivided attention these past couple of years. But once the new baby is here your time will be torn between them and your eldest. It’ll be important that you do what you can to ensure your toddler does not feel pushed out by their new sibling.
During the pregnancy, regularly remind your toddler that the new baby cannot wait to meet their older sibling. Talk about them playing together in the future and about how much fun it will be to have a sibling.
In the months and years to come, seeing your toddler enjoy the older sibling role is enough to make your heart explode!
3. Explain that your love for your toddler will not change with the arrival of your new baby
When a second baby comes along, love doesn’t divide. It multiplies.
When your new baby is born, you’ll feel that same rush of love for your second, just as you did for your first. But this may be difficult for your toddler to understand. So, it’s important that you explain this to them, so they don’t feel left out or cast aside with the arrival of your new baby.
4. Give them a ‘big brother’ or ‘big sister’ gift
You might also want to ensure that when the new baby arrives that you have an exciting gift for them – or ask family and friends to bring gifts for your toddler and not just for the baby.
It’ll be totally normal for your eldest to feel a pang of jealousy if all the attention is suddenly on the new addition to the family and that the baby is receiving gifts.
You needn’t spend lots of money – toddlers love simple things such as stickers, crayons and noisy toys – but it will be money well spent if it helps your toddler to still feel important.
5. Make your toddler feel involved
Both before, and once your new baby is born, make your toddler feel useful and involved.
Get them to help out by passing clean nappies or wipes, then heap praise on them for doing a great job. They’ll puff up with pride!
6. Let them touch and hold the new baby
Also, allow your toddler to sit and hold the baby (with close supervision, of course), and photograph the moment. Photographs of your children together will be great to look baby on in the months and years to come and will make your toddler feel big and important.
Don’t forget you can capture those wonderful moments of new siblings together (and the beaming smiles of proud big brother or sister!) with a professional family photograph session at Kingshill. Get in touch to ask about availability.
7. Find some one-on-one time with your toddler
Even in the chaos of those early days with a newborn, if you can, try to carve out a little one-to-one time with your eldest, even if it’s just during the baby’s nap times.
When tantrums ramp up and everyone’s tempers are getting frayed, it’s really helpful to have this special time to allow them to reset and remember that your bond is still the same as it always was.
8. Accept that the first few months will be crazy
The saying goes, ‘Your first baby is life-changing; your second is game-changing.’
Yes, at first, you’re likely need to employ military levels of organisation just to get out of the house with a baby and a toddler in tow! And you’ll probably need to reduce your own expectations of what you’ll realistically achieve in a typical day.
But at this stage, don’t be too hard on yourself. Getting everyone to the end of the day with a few smiles along the way is a total win in my book. Celebrate the small wins and try not to get too bogged down when things don’t quite go to plan.
Ask for help if you need it and don’t worry – this phase will pass and things will get easier!