How Did You Prepare Your Toddler for a New Baby?

Updated on January 06, 2012
A.L. asks from Tacoma, WA
5 answers

My husband and I have decided to start trying for a second baby here shortly. Our daughter will be 18 months old in February so by the time a second baby arrives she'll be around 2 1/2. I'm just wondering some tips other mothers may have for helping your toddler prepare for a new sibling. She'll have her own room so no switching there but I highly doubt she will be potty trained by then so we're not planning on pushing it on her unless she decides she's ready beforehand. Yes, there's all the articles and websites you can read but those don't always tell everything. Thanks for all the advice ahead of time!

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answers from Casper on

For our kids one thing that we did was tell them that we (the family) was having a baby. We never once said it was mommy's baby or daddy's was always our baby. Even while I was pregnant I tried to make sure that if I couldn't do something I didn't tell them it was because of the jumping on the tramp or somethings like that. When the baby actually arrived I would try to include them in the things that I would have to do with/for the baby. I would ask them to help me pick out clothes/blankets/diapers for the baby. I have found myself telling my children they had to wait while I did something for the I switched it up and found that the older children think it is awesome that I would tell the baby that they had to wait while I got the older sibling a drink (or whatever it was). The baby isn't going to notice or remember, but the older child thinks it is so cool that the baby has to wait too.
J.--SAHM of 7

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answers from Savannah on

Talk, talk, talk. Go to the library and there will probably be 30 books FOR kids on being a big brother/sister. We got one book a week from the library. He went to all my doctor appointments (he left if I was having an exam he couldn't be there for, but if it was just a regular exam or especially if we were going to "see" the baby, he was always there).
I asked him to help me pick things out, to help me make choices on what we should do (should we put the bed here or here? this blanket or that blanket? this paci or that paci? etc) and he took a big brother class at the hospital. That was actually really sweet---they did a build a bear kind of thing so they could have a "baby" to take care of, they learned how to help mom, they learned how important and special being an older sibling is, got a cute certificate that we framed and hung on his wall, etc, etc. I got him a baby and we practiced things like how to hold the baby, where it is ok to hold a baby so he didn't get dropped, practiced rules and holding bottles, we changed stinky doll diapers and helped at bathtime.
Joseph was really good to go with it all....even after the baby was born and at the hospital.....until the baby came home. Fortunately, we had my mom and dad there. I had already prepared tons of meals and stored them in the deep freezer, the house was already cleaned by a housekeeper and I'd already washed all clothes and set up the nursery....there was nothing I really needed from my mom and dad (except an occasional load of laundry) so their one big "job" was to make Joseph feel special, play with him, he thought they came to visit him and everything else was just "extra". I also put him in a 4 hour, 2 day a week mother's day out program (which we called "school") as early as possible----which was about 3 months before the baby came. That way, it was already part of his "own" routine and not me sending him away because the baby came. He was VERY proud of going to school because we made a huge deal out of it. He got a new Spiderman backpack, lunchbox, and thermos because he was a big boy going to school.
(And when he went to my friend's house, who he adores, while I was in labor/delivery, we packed his special Spiderman backpack with some very special new stuff to keep him busy and happy, sort of like a miniature Christmas so he wouldn't be upset if me or the baby got extra attention for a little bit: we packed his build a bear "baby" from the hospital class, a new set of crayons and a new coloring book, a couple hot wheels, a small kid version of a comic book, a few snacks, some new pjs and his blanky, and the special present: a fisher price digital camera so he could take pictures of things from his view point).
But even with all that preparation, he was still a little "funny" for the first week that we brought the baby home. He liked my parents' attention, and my husband and I did our best, but he would NOT look at the baby for a week. But then one day he's sitting stoically on the couch pretending the baby isn't by him, watching cartoons, and his baby brother touched his arm and smiled so big. I said "Dude! He knows you're his brother----he's smiling at you!" and I saw Joseph melt. He looked a minute, then his face softened, then he smiled. He's been an amazing big brother ever since! (They have their issues at times some days now that "baby bro" is in the terrible 2s, but that's a different thing).
I think you should REALLY be as open as you can about stuff. Do NOT ask if she wants a brother or sister, or anything like that, that you can't control or deliver on. I think it's great that she won't have to share a room or move. I think you can read those "bringing home baby" or "i'm a big sister" type books from the library and also get some idea of how the child is feeling while reading the books, so you can kind of keep those feelings in mind and be prepared to handle them as they come. Be sensitive to the fact that even though a toddler can be excited about being a big sister, she will also have some trepidation and need to know she's not being replaced and that she is still going to have her cuddle time too! Another thing I think that helped with my son: when the baby went to sleep, I would call him on the couch and cuddle me, read a book, watch a silly show, sing some songs, or something.....but make sure you get your "down time" to rest but also take some of that time to cuddle and recharge both yours and her batteries.
I think the trying to rush the diaper situation could be a mistake. You could rush her into it and then the stress of having a new baby in the house could make her lose that new skill. There's other problems that come into play there. I saw this happen with a little boy I was babysitting: he was 2 and his mom was pregnant. The dad was gung-ho on not having to buy diapers for a baby AND a toddler, so they put a lot of pressure on him and he had some problems. Teach, train, etc but don't pressure them so much, in my opinion.

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answers from Hickory on

A similar question was asked awhile back and she got some pretty good answers, hope this helps and good luck....

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answers from Dallas on

I would not mention a thing to your daughter until you start to show. Then prepare her by describing what life will be like. Don't tell her she will have a friend to play with because it will be a long time before that happens. Tell her what life with a baby is like, and that he/she will grow, but it will take a long time.

Don't take your daughter with you when you go on multiple shopping sprees for the baby. She will wonder why the baby is getting everything! But do let her buy the baby a gift and have a gift from baby to sister ready after the baby arrives.

Let her be part of the process. Let her feel your tummy and listen to the baby on your stomach. Give your daughter special time before and after the baby is born.

Now...... prepare yourself. No matter how hard you try there is a good chance your daughter will notice that things have changed big time once the baby arrives. It's okay. Transition is hard but its part of life.

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answers from Lake Charles on

Include her in everything. We just were very matter of factly with her. "You're going to have a baby brother, isn't that exciting?" she went with us to all of my OB appointments, saw the heartbeat and all the ultrasounds.. She helped me get the nursery ready and we went through all her old bottles and baby clothes to find stuff she could share with him (she loved that). I think the single most important thing we did was have her there during the delivery. There was no question about where he came from and we didn't send her away, she's a part of our family and deserved to be there for that moment. She even helped dad cut the cord. Now she is SO amazing with her little brother, if he's crying on the couch she'll go hold his hand until I can get to him. If he loses his pacifier she'll give it back to him, gives him lots of kisses and asks for us to help her hold him. She's 2 1/2 so I was SO worried that it would be rough but man, it's pretty dang awesome!

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