Preparing toddler for new baby
A new baby is always a time of joy for the parents and extended family – but it can also be a time of confusion for your toddler. They keep hearing they’ve got a new baby brother or sister but they don’t really understand what that means – and the tiny baby in the crib isn’t much fun either! In the worst cases toddlers can become jealous of the new baby and this can lead to behavioural problems such as bed wetting or bad dreams, or your toddler may even try to hurt the baby. In this article we’ll look at some sleep methods that you can do to help prepare your toddler for the new arrival so they adjust quickly.
Before baby is born
Don’t tell your toddler about the pregnancy too soon. Sadly things can and do go wrong and it will be difficult to explain why there won’t be a baby after all – your toddler just won’t understand. But mainly, nine months is a very long time for a toddler and you may be driven mad by them asking every day when the baby is coming! Leave it at least until your bump is showing and baby is moving around – it’s easier to talk about a baby that has a physical presence. However, if your toddler asks you what’s going on – perhaps because you have morning sickness – then that’s a good time for a conversation too.
Books about new babies are a great starting point. Read stories together and relate the story to your own life. Talk about feelings – it can be easier for toddlers to express their emotions when they can relate it to a character in a book.
If you need to move your toddler to a new bedroom to make room for the baby, do it well in advance of their arrival, otherwise your toddler might feel angry they’ve been pushed out for the baby. Decorate their new room and let them help with choosing the paint colours; you can let them help choose things for the new baby.
When baby comes home
Sometimes toddlers are a bit apprehensive or even scared about approaching their new baby brother or sister – after all, they are so much smaller and more delicate. Talk to them about how they used to be so tiny too, and show them how to hold the baby’s hand or give them a cuddle.
Get your toddler involved with looking after the baby – you’ll be surprised how helpful they can be! Ask them to pass you things at nappy changing time, or to wash baby’s legs at bath time, or to choose a story or a babygrow or a special toy for the baby. However, some toddlers do not want to be involved – if that’s the case don’t force them; just let them do their own thing and they will come round eventually.
Continue reading books about families – this new situation is all a bit strange for your toddler and they will be reassured by reading about other families just like theirs.
Make sure you spend some special time with your toddler on their own every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. This could be at baby’s naptime or bedtime, or perhaps you could get grandparents to look after the baby for an hour so you can play with your toddler.
When visitors come round, ask them to bring a small gift for your toddler as well as a present for the baby – or have some little treats to hand to give your toddler so they don’t get jealous. You can also let your toddler choose a present for the baby, and give them something in return – this can really help them bond.
Finally, be aware of your toddler’s feelings. However well you prepare them they may still feel angry, frustrated, upset or confused. Talk to them about how they feel, and don’t get too annoyed with them if they misbehave. Bringing a new baby into the family can be an unsettling time for your toddler, but with a little time and your love they will soon get used to it.