When considering expanding your family, it's important to think of all the great ways to prepare your toddler for a new baby in the family. Even if you're not yet pregnant but plan to be soon, there are many things you can to do now so that your toddler will feel important and cherished when the new baby arrives. I know of many people who have difficulties with the adjustment of a new baby when a toddler is already present in the home. While some difficulties are to be expected, there are ways to prepare your toddler for a new baby that will make the transition a little easier on everyone!
1. Plan a Date with Your Toddler Once a Week
One of the ways to prepare your toddler for a new baby is to start a one-on-one tradition with your toddler before baby arrives. Plan a once a week date with just you and her and then alternate weeks with daddy as well. This will make her feel special and important, especially when there is a new baby taking up all of mom and dad's attention. It may be difficult at first for special dates to be a routine, but just think that you are getting a much needed break from the chaos as well as making your toddler a very happy camper when you make alone time a priority.
2. Explain What It Means to Be an Older Sibling
Begin explaining what it means to be a big brother or sister and how important it is to teach younger siblings and set good examples for them. Make your toddler feel like their role as an older brother or sister is very important and special. If you begin explaining responsibilities now and continue to remind your toddler of their role, they will experience excitement and anticipation for the arrival of their little brother or sister!
3. Allow Your Toddler to Help out and Feel Appreciated
Most young kids desire to be helpers and feel included in daily responsibilities. You can transfer this over when you have a new baby in your arms. Ask your toddler to bring the baby a toy or a blanket so that they are involved with the baby in some way. Your toddler can also help with small chores around the house, and make sure to remind her how big of a helper she is and what a good job she's doing as an older sister!
4. Read Lots of Books about Babies
Before baby arrives, you can tangibly show your toddler what babies are like and what they need by reading plenty of books about babies and older siblings. You may think they won't necessarily understand yet, however children are very observant and understand way more than they can communicate.
5. Stagger out Big Changes
If you're in the midst of potty training or switching over to a toddler bed, then it's best to stagger out these changes months before a new baby arrives. Too many changes at once can cause your child to become overwhelmed and thus act out. No one wants that to happen so plan your changes in advance!
6. Hang out around Other Babies!
The best way to prepare your child for a new baby is to experience being around actual babies! Teaching them to be gentle and quiet around little babies is good practice for when they will become a big brother or sister. Generally friends will be very understanding if you want your child to be exposed to babies before your new one arrives.
7. Be Gracious with Him
Above all else, remember to be gracious with your toddler when the new baby arrives. It's a huge life change and suddenly he is no longer the sole focus of the family, which can be hard to handle at such a young age. It's hard to be patient, especially while running on little to no sleep with a newborn, but it will be worth it when your child responds well to your understanding and care.
Hopefully these ways to prepare your toddler for a new baby will help you in your transition and make life a little smoother. Having a baby is never easy, so any way to make things more pleasant is ideal! If you've experienced the toddler-new baby dynamic, what ways did you prepare your toddler for the arrival of baby? Did you find anything particularly helpful once the baby was born?