Getting ready for another baby in the house (or maybe more!) is always exciting, stressful, and emotional-and that’s just for the parents! But what about your other baby who is now going to be the big brother or sister? How are they feeling? Do they even know? How do you prepare your toddler for a new sibling?
Maybe you’re like me and the “older” child is still very much a baby too (mine was maybe 7 months old when I became pregnant again). You will definitely want to check out my previous post on this very subject here. There you will learn about different tips, tricks, and hacks to get ready for having two under two.
One of the tips I mentioned in that article was to prepare your older child for the baby. This subject alone deserves its very own blog post to break down all the different ways you can help your oldest get ready.
Help Your “Toddler” Know What’s Coming
I put toddler in quotes because your oldest child may be in fact, still an infant themselves! They may not even be verbal yet, so how can you even begin to talk about your growing belly?
I mean, can’t they see the growing bump on their favorite jungle gym, aka mom???
I think books are a great starting point for building the concept of a little brother or sister coming. Even if they can’t comprehend all the words you are saying, the pictures alone will help explain things.
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This is the book that we read to our son at minimum once a week. In the back of the book is comments from the author on how to prepare your toddler for a new baby.
Side note-it helps make for a cute pregnancy announcement! We took a picture of our son “reading” the book and it was adorable.
Have your child see you taking care of a baby
The reason I say baby versus an older child is because that’s exactly what’s coming-a baby! Of course, it never hurts for them to see you taking care of older children as well, but it may not click like it would a baby.
If your older child is also your first child, it will be a huge transition to having to share mommy and daddy’s attention with someone else.
Is there someone you can babysit? Have a playdate with someone who has a baby? The more exposure the better.
When I was pregnant with my second, it was the heart of the lockdown of the pandemic. So socializing with others wasn’t an option for me. And you might be in a stage in your life where no one else has a baby right now.
What I suggest then is “taking care of” a baby doll. Feeding, changing, the whole bit. Even just holding the doll while walking around the house. I know it might feel goofy, but they might catch on to what you’re doing and get curious about it.
That would be a great time to incorporate taking care of the doll into playtime. Play is how children help process their world and emotions. It helps that they can explore what it’s like to take care of a baby beforehand.
Once my second child was born, I found my son (again who was only 15 months at the time) grabbing his “baby” and taking care of the doll while I took care of his sister.
So. Stinkin. Cute. 🙂
Make transitions happen-like now!
Most of us adults have trouble with any one big transition, let alone multiple transitions at once. It’s too much. How can we expect any more out of our kids?
In a matter of a few short months or weeks, the whole family dynamic is going to change. Again, like us, they are going to want some control in the chaos (even good chaos) and have something to hang onto while their whole world has changed.
What are some transitions that need to happen for your toddler/older baby?
- Weaning off the bottle/and or breast?
- Sleeping in a toddler bed?
- Moving out of mommy and daddy’s room?
- New car seat, new spot in the car?
- Getting rid of the pacifier?
By having this transition taken care of now, it will help both you and your baby get into a new flow before adding another kid in the mix.
But be warned! You will most likely see a regression in your older child on any developmental changes once the baby is born.
That is totally normal.
Give your older child a big hug and kiss and know that this is temporary. They will catch right up to any progress made in no time.
Start delegating night and nap routines to someone else.
This very much applies if you plan to breastfeed. You definitely can still partake in parts of the routine but when it comes to actually getting your toddler in their bed and to fall asleep, maybe dad can take over then.
Perhaps you are in a situation where it’s just you for bedtime and don’t have anyone to hand it off too. In that case, if your child isn’t already doing it, have them get used to falling asleep in their room on their own.
I definitely struggled emotionally with not being the one to put my first baby to sleep. But I knew in a very short time I was going to be breastfeeding again and it wasn’t the best-case scenario for us.
It is good for your child to learn to be comfortable with having someone else do this routine. This can help increase their own self-soothing skills and won’t be as drastic of a change for when you’re in labor.
Have your toddler spend a night or two at someone’s house.
Or have someone come spend the night at your house and then YOU are away-babymoon, perhaps???
While I was still breastfeeding my oldest, I didn’t want to be gone from him at night, but that’s just me. Once he was weaned it was very important to least have 1 night where he spent the night away.
If possible, have them stay wherever or with whomever will be taking care of them while you’re gone. Once again, when it comes time for the baby to be born your older one has at least experienced their first night away from the parents beforehand.
Ways to help your toddler transition when the baby is born
This topic is going to be discussed in a follow-up post because there’s a lot to it! For now, the best advice I can give is to make sure to “baby” your older baby.
Even though they are at the ripe old age of 2 (or 3 or 4…), they are going to need that reassurance that they are still your baby too!
Let me know in the comments what you have found helpful from this article. Please consider subscribing to stay up to date on all of the newest content and to receive your free Children’s Activity Printable.
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