How to Prepare Your Toddler for the Arrival of a New Baby
Before Baby Arrives
- Give your child a time frame she can understand for when the baby will arrive (such as right after her birthday, around Christmas, or just before school ends for the summer).
- Give your child the appropriate expectations. Explain to him that for the first few months the baby will do little more than eat, sleep, and cry.
- If your child is older, take her on a brief tour of the hospital where you will deliver. Explain all the details of who will look after her and where she will stay while you are in the hospital.
- Tell your child about when you were pregnant with her and the story of her birth.
- Read books or watch videos about becoming a big brother or sister.
- Decorate the newborn’s room with your child.
- Make major changes, such as toilet training or giving up a pacifier or bottle, at least a few months before you expect to give birth (and be prepared for backsliding once the baby comes).
- If you plan to use your older child’s crib for the new baby, get her into her new bed long before the baby comes. Remove the crib from sight for a while so when you return it for your new baby, your older child will not think of it as her crib. Consider new bedding and bumpers for your baby, too, so your child doesn’t feel like she’s turning over her entire bed to a newcomer.
- Start your child’s new routine a few weeks before your baby is due. Have helpers begin coming to the house or start him at a new daycare program or school.
- Begin arranging time for your child to spend alone with grandparents, caregivers, and your partner, so others can tend to her needs while you care for the baby.
- Have your child come with you to sit for a friend’s or relative’s baby a few times before the birth of your new child. This will help your child get used to having a baby around.
After Baby is Born
- Don’t blame the baby for big changes that disrupt your older child’s life. By doing so, you risk giving your child reasons to resent her new sibling.
- Allow your older child new privileges, such as a later bedtime or extended playtime hours.
- Let your child overhear you talking about what a great older sibling he is.
- Don’t try to make your child stay quiet while the baby sleeps. Your baby will adapt to the noise, and your older child’s life will be less disrupted.
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