Preparing your toddler for a baby

The arrival of a new baby can bring mixed emotions- excitement at the thought of a new baby but also anxiousness of change. Here are some simple things to prepare everyone for the newest family member.

When to tell your toddler

If you’re preparing for a baby, when and how much you tell your Toddler about the baby depends on you- after all you know them best.

Some mothers like to tell their child as soon as their pregnant whilst others like to wait till there is a visible bump. Toddlers understand more then you expect and will soon pick up that something is going on. As toddlers also don’t really understand time, it may be useful to explain that the baby will arrive in a particular season, or relating it to a family event.

Preparing your other children

Preparation, communication and lots of understanding is key to creating a positive environment for the arrival of a new baby.

Here are a few ideas to help you do this:

  • Going through your children’s baby photos
  • Read your children books about babies. Look at the pictures and talk about how your family is growing (make sure they’re age-appropriate)
  • Let them touch your tummy to feel the baby moving and kicking inside you
  • Visiting friends and family with babies
  • Encourage them to help with preparation for the arrival (buy nursery items, pack bag for hospital).

*If your child is ready to move into a new bed or toilet trained then it is best to do this well before the due date or leave the changes till after the arrival.

During the Hospital stay

While you’re in the hospital here are some ideas to help your children feel secure while you’re away.

  • Before the arrival explain to your children who will be look after them during your hospital stay.
  • Arrange for your children’s routine to stay the same as much as possible.
  • Keep in touch with children by phone and make time for just the children to come and visit you in hospital.

Bringing the new baby home

Once you and baby are home you can help your other children adjust to the changes. Reassure them with a lots of love and attention as they may be feeling a bit sensitive. Even though you’ll be busy with the new baby set aside some one on one time with the other children.

You can involve your children helping with daily activities such as bath time. But explain to them they don’t have to do too much to keep the experience positive and fun.

You’ll need all the support you can. If your partner can get some time off work or another family member is around, they can spend some time playing and caring with your older child.

Be prepared for interruptions whilst Breastfeeding. It’s best to encourage your toddler to go to the toilet before you sit down. Have your phone by your side and set up an activity to keep your toddler busy and they have something to eat and drink.

Whilst the baby is sleeping spend some one on one time with your toddler. Make this a special time by doing something your child enjoys.

It is also important to rest. Don’t let yourself get over tired by trying to do too much. It is ok to ask for help. Allow yourself 15minutes to relax whether it’s lying down or reading a magazine. Make sure you have some “You Time”, as you need all the energy and for you to enjoy this special time.

 Useful resources

  • There’s a House Inside My Mummy by Giles Andreae and Vanessa Cabban