10 Practical Tips to Help Prepare your Toddler for Baby Number 2
One of the biggest concerns I had when I was pregnant with my second daughter, was how we were going to introduce our newborn to our toddler?
How would she cope? Would she be gentle? Would she feel as loved as we loved her?
Let them be the first one to meet them
The first meeting is a special time for your toddler and your baby (not to mention a great photo opportunity). Be sure that your toddler is given the important role of being the first person other than the parents to meet, hold and bond with baby.
You may wish to ask other family and friends to wait until your toddler has had a chance to meet their new brother or sister.
The very first time my toddler Ayla was introduced to Indi in the hospital, she sat down in front of her new sister and her dad, put her head between her legs and screamed.
It was a shock seeing her dad holding a child that wasn’t her and she would have seen the smile and sensed the love for another person.
This didn’t last long though. Half a minute later with some hugs and support, she was sitting up on a chair demanding her new baby. From then on in, Indi was introduced by Ayla as “my baby” and she was always giving her kisses and love.
Be mindful of what they are feeling and ease them into it; give plenty of cuddles
Your toddler will undergo a big transition and notice lots of changes. After all, previously they were the only child and had your full attention. This may come with some tantrums, and different emotions.
This is completely normal. The important thing is to be mindful of what they are feeling. If they are able to express what they are thinking in words, let them speak about it. Be understanding.
It is important to help them to feel safe and ensure their belonging by giving them cuddles and spending time to help them through this stage.
Even now that Ayla is 4 and Indi is 2, Ayla still has moments where she gets frustrated with Indi, wants me to herself or just needs a break from her sister’s antics.
Talk honestly about changes
Speak to your toddler. Even if they are not fully communicative. They are clever and they understand what you are saying.
Let them know their role as a big sister or brother and how important it is. Explain that this is a special time.
It is also important to prepare them for the changes by talking about all of the great things about being a big sibling, but also talking to them about some of the differences that they may notice.
This will help to reduce the shock when the time comes.
Let touch Belly and explain there is a baby inside
Your toddler is an extraordinary human being and they will sense that something is happening, even before your belly grows. Your belly can be a great point of connection, bonding and preparation for everyone.
Let them touch your belly and talk about why it is growing. Take them to your ultrasounds and let them ask questions when they see their little brother or sister on the screen. Call them over excitedly when baby kicks and let them feel the movements.
You may have some interesting moments where your toddler wants to get your belly out in public and show people, or repeats exactly what you tell them, but it is all a part of the special journey.
Gift from baby
Toddlers love new toys and gifts. A very simple way to help your toddler bond and like baby from the beginning is to give them a gift from the new baby.
Explain that the new baby wanted them to have it because they loved them and knew they were going to have lots of good times together.
Use practical toys and books to help with the transition
There are so many books available to help prepare your toddler for the transition into being a big sibling.
Ask them questions like, ‘what do you think it will be like’? ‘Do you want a baby brother or sister’? ‘What should we call them’?
I also found that buying Ayla a special doll and stroller was one of the best things to help her. She got to ‘practice’ before baby came along and was able to role play when I was busy feeding or settling baby.
There were a number of times when Ayla would walk around our town with her baby in the stroller and gently get her out to ‘breastfeed’. Something so simple made life easier, but also created extra special moments.
Have activities and snacks prepared for when baby needs you.
There will be times when you are unable to give your full attention to your toddler because your baby needs you.
This can be hard for parents and your precious toddler.
To make it easier, have activities prepared or toys and snacks in easy reach so they have something to occupy themselves during this time.
It won’t work every time, but with some patience and gentle training, you will get the time that you need.
Let them both cuddle you
Let your toddler cuddle you when you are cuddling the baby.
Although this won’t always be possible, it is important to make and effort and do it on some occasions. Spend some quiet time talking and being close to both.
HANDY HINT: Use lots of pillows to make everyone comfortable. Eventually, you will get the hang of it and find ways that you all naturally fit.
It helps to reduce any element of competition and jealousy.
Let your toddler help
Toddlers love helping. Mimicking and role play is also a very important part of their own development.
If you have the patience, let your toddler help prepare or fetch things for your baby when they are willing. Simple tasks like folding clothes and filling bottles can be exciting for your toddler.
Let them sit with you while you feed, they will stroke babies head, coo and love them. If you are bottle feeding, you might like to let your toddler give the baby a bottle with your help.
Let them know what a good job they are doing and how much of a great big sister or brother they are.
The important thing here is to let them do things when they want to rather than demanding their help. Remember, they are still a child and transitioning themselves.
Take time to be with them
It is so important to set some time aside just to be with your toddler. Taking them outside to play, cuddling to read a book or sharing a babycino while baby is with another family member or asleep in the pram can be very calming and comforting for your toddler.
This can sometimes be hard and you don’t feel like there is enough of you to go around. So pick times when you are feeling relaxed. If you are wound up, it will rub off on your toddler.
If you need to ask the other parent or a family member to watch baby for a short while so you can have some time together, this is absolutely fine.
Abbey McKenna – The Parenting Co
Chaotically organised, energetically tired, beautifully dishevelled, erratically in control mother of 5 children and a rescue dog. Abbey is the Chief Editor for The Parenting Co, a teacher, visible learning coach, environmental rehabilitation business owner and NLP practitioner; but her claim to fame is having the best taste in music and the hippest Mum dance moves you have ever seen.