Congratulations, you are pregnant!
You have been down this path once, twice (maybe even more times). You know what to expect from your body, your spouse, and friends. But there is one unknown factor this time – your toddler! The little being who up until now has been your baby. The cherub who instantly is promoted to older sibling.
With one positive pregnancy test he’s now your wild card, your “unknown”!
How will your little one react to getting booted from his position as “the family’s youngest”? These smart ways to prepare your child for a new sibling worked for us – three times!
(This post was updated in September 2019 for accuracy.)
Will he love and adore his new sibling?
Is he going to sneak small choking hazards into the baby’s crib and stick beads up the sleeping infant’s nose?
Will he regress, start asking for a bottle and insist on wearing diapers again? The 2, 3 or 4 years that it was just the three of you were such heavenly bliss and now you are adding a baby to the mix. Fret not, this happy occasion won’t cause your other child(ren) to resent you forever – I promise.
We have been through this three times and have used the same method every time to prepare our kid(s) for the new sibling – with raging success!
Prepare your child for a new sibling:
- Buy a baby doll! We now have a few baby dolls in the house, and they are some of the most coveted toys. Yes, even in a house with only boys! Jansen (3) LOVES his “baby”, feeds him a bottle and has even “nursed” him on a few occasions. Having their own baby to care for was the single best transition exercise we ever did.
- Read books about babies! Take a trip to the book store, buy a few books that celebrate becoming a big sibling and some that explain babies in very simple terms. There are some books that go into great detail about pregnancy, birth and what babies need. I found that “less is more”, fewer words and cute pictures really go a long way. “I Am a Big Brother” and another great book: “I’m a Big Brother! “
- Bring your child(ren) with you to a 3D ultrasound or prenatal appointment! Once the pregnancy has been confirmed and the big anatomy ultrasound is behind you, bring your toddler with you to an elective 3D ultrasound, or a scheduled one in the doctor’s office. Seeing a face on the screen will still be hard to connect with the bump on mama’s belly – but every little bit helps to hammer home the point that there is a real baby in there.
- Talk about friends who have younger siblings! Compare your family with someone your toddler knows: a neighbor or a friend.
- Introduce the growing belly! Let your child talk to the baby, kiss the belly and hopefully feel when the baby moves. You may need to model the behavior first, but the more natural you act about the belly the better.
- Make room changes MONTHS in advance! – Especially if the new baby will need to take over the toddler’s crib. Switch your toddler’s room to a “big kid room” and make a big deal out of all the big kid things. (Don’t make a big deal about the baby using the crib).
- Try not to blame your tiredness and physical restrictions on the baby! Think about this as a positive PR campaign for the baby. You do not want your toddler or preschooler to associate the baby with “mommy being tired” or “mommy can’t carry me.” Instead, you can say “mama can’t lift you today. You are such a big boy, let’s walk and hold hands.”
- Talk, talk, talk! – and answer questions! Chances are that your little motor-mouth toddler has an incredibly inquiring mind, so be prepared for many conversations surrounding the issues of babies and bellies.
- Relax & breathe! Enjoy and cherish the next few months with your children, spend lots of quality time with them; one-on-one attention will benefit both of you. Then rest assured that giving your children a sibling is a gift that will last them a lifetime.
When did you tell your child(ren) that you were pregnant? Right away, or did you wait until the second trimester?
Read our other pregnancy related articles and share them with your friends – chances are they have the same questions and concerns as you.