How to Prepare 18 Month Old for New Baby

Updated on March 04, 2009
K.J. asks from Hillsboro, OR
13 answers

We have an 18 month old son and are expecting a girl anytime in the next month. We have been talking about the baby for a while and he knows it is in my tummy, but I don't think he really has a concept of what a baby is (he is the youngest of all the kids we know). We also gave him a baby doll for Christmas that he holds and feeds and have tried to read some big brother books but he is not that interested. Any suggestions on how to prepare him for his sister?

Even though he is a very mellow, easy going kid, he does not play very well independently. He wants you right next to him while he is building, reading, etc. I plan to breastfeed the baby, so my biggest concern is what to do with him while I am nursing her often and can't sit right next to him to play. I have heard of a nursing box with special toys and snacks but I'm not sure what to put in it that might distract him. He is a little young for crayons on his own (still occasionally tries to eat them) but he loves to color and play with shape sorters and balls.

Any ideas would be fantastic! We are hoping this transition goes smoothly.

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answers from Seattle on


My kids are 26 mos apart, so not quite so close together, but I was given a few very good tips before my littlest one came!

One is to have something for him to do while you are nursing, a special thing, that he only gets to do at this "time". One suggestion was to have them sit next you on the couch and have him feed his baby, at the same time. He can mimic you and will probably get bored with it and go do something else. ;) The most valuable tip I ever received, was "Just a minute baby, mommy's helping (other childs name) and we'll be right there!" This of coarse, is if the baby is crying from her bed and you are helping the toddler getting a drink, going potty, tying shoes, etc. The show the toddler that they are still very important and mommy has responsibility to both children. Wow. This was awesome! Shortly after installing this tactic, my oldest would get a bit of a "oh no" look and repeat with "just a minute baby, we're coming!" lol The thought is that the baby will be fine for just a minute of fussing/crying. You'll be there to tend to her anyways, but not immediately dropping the toddlers needs to rush to her shows a great deal of respect, importance and love. The infant will not be hurt by letting her wait for a few extra seconds.

The other idea that I did, was repeatedly had the oldest touching my belly, saying "hi baby!" "love you baby" "can't wait to see you baby". This depends on your childs ability to communicate and might not be "here" yet. However, I also repeatedly told her that baby was going to come out of mommy's tummy soon! I repeated that mommy's going to need a helper, too. (She loved 'helping'!) I'd have her retrieve a diaper or burping cloth, etc. A sticker chart for a reward system might be a good idea to help with the transition, too.

We had a very easy transition in bringing our second baby home. I hope yours is as good. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I loved many of the suggestions posted. Do remember that the whole "baby on the way" thing is an extremely abstract concept for a toddler's brain, which exists solely in the "here and now and what's right in front of me" present.
For what it's worth, it's normal for toddlers to show very little interest in younger siblings. Some love the new little baby, others could care less.

I didn't see anyone suggest this, but if you have the resources, consider having a caregiver come in for a few hours each week. Let the caregiver spend some of that time with your son (like when you are nursing) and then let the caregiver hold and snuggle the baby while your son gets some uninterrupted time with you.

Reading books is also something that parents can do while they are nursing (after the first few weeks, when a newborn needs mom's undivided attention while they learn to latch, etc.)If your son is verbal, grab a pile of National Geographics and cut out interesting pictures to stick in an old photo album (they're always cheap at Goodwill) and create a Picture Story book...these are pictures you and your son can tell stories about and talk about without having the added activity of reading text over a nursing baby. These books worked very well for my 20-30 month + groups.

Best wishes on your new arrival.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Make a great first impression... We had a gift ready for our older child and when we introduced her to our newborn; We gave her the present and said it was from him. She told everyone her new little brother brought her a purse with lip balm (oooh!). No jealously there. When he got a gift, we gave her a little something. So everytime he was gifted so was she. She was very happy with all the newfound wealth her little bro brought. Nursing is when they tend to get into trouble, but have something (usually forbidden,like crayons) ready to do before you start nursing. They are best friends now (5 and 3).

Good luck and enjoy the wealth of love that shows up on her birthday.



answers from Seattle on

We have a 20 month old and are expecting again as well. Our ped. suggested exactly what you're doing. Maybe make sure he feels the baby kick. When you're out and about at the store or park, talk about any little baby you see and tell him they are just like the one inside you. I think it's a great idea to have a nursing basket of things for him. Even if he's sitting next to you, he can turn the pages of the book and you can read to him or talk about what's on each page etc.



answers from Medford on

We bought our daughter a baby boy (we were having a little boy) that we gave her at the hospital, so she had her baby and mommy had worked really well. As for nursing, its amazing what you can do while nursing. You will be just fine, you can read to him, make a place for him next to you on the bed, let him watch a cartoon...just make sure to explain to him that this is mommy's special time with the baby and then when then baby goes to sleep (usually happens after a full tummy) you will have special time with big brother. He might want to sit and feed his baby while you feed yours...Best of luck to you! You will be surprised how well he does as a big brother! :) I was really afraid, our daughter was very needy for attention, but she adjusted just fine...



answers from Seattle on

Yes, he probably is to young to"prepare" for the new baby. A nursing box is a good idea, if you can arrange to put new things in it occasionally. Reading to him while you nurse will work for a while.

The biggest problem I had when I brought my new daughter home to my 2 year old who I had always been close to and had never gotten hurt. He all of a sudden started going out side without me and getting hurt!!! The worst was when he chipped his front tooth and had to have his tooth pulled! Blood all over--I up to that point had not done blood well--and cries when it was happening.

But in the end they ended up being each other's very good friend. So find you center, and live each day for it's blessings. I learned a lot from my children.



answers from Richland on

My boys are 18 mo apart as well. Just remember the saying "this too shall pass"!! It is tough times. While nursing, my son would play with blocks, or cars. dumping them from one container to the other. He plays really well by himself, but not always. I would put him in the highchair with snacks while I was nursing, or if he was too ornery, then I'd put him in time out by me for a bit. He would try to see what the baby was doing, and I'd show him, let him hold him (lasted 2 seconds alot) They are now 2 1/2 and 14 mo and I just stopped nursing at 13 mo. so it can be done! Good luck and have a blast!



answers from Eugene on

K., my daughter was 21 mo. when her little brother joined the family. She was the same way...very attached to mom and wanted me to play with her all the time. I found that sitting her next to me on the couch with books worked pretty well. As far as the special box of toys, I'd suggest picking up a bunch of new, little toys, even things as simple as happy-meal toys, to put in the box, and perhaps refreshing it each week for awhile...just so the things are new. My daughter loved anything new...even if it was a whisk and a spatula from the dollar store! Eventually, they start getting it, and require less of your attention, and won't really need "the box" anymore. do keep in mind that the things need to be things he won't have any chance of "mis-using" so you don't have to worry about setting down your new baby in an effort to help your son. My baby will be a year next month, and the time flew will get easier quickly as everyone figures out the new routines. Best of luck!



answers from Seattle on

my 23 month old still wants me to be next to her when she plays. They really don't start getting independent until they are closer to 3.

Your son will get more interested in the big brother books after the baby comes. Both of my kids still love reading "I'm a Big Brother".

When you are feeding the baby, you don't have to leave him out of the experience. If he wants, let him look at the baby, or have him choose a picture book that he can turn the pages while you read. He may not be interested at all, and just get used to it. My son got bored watching his sister, and as long as I was in the room, didn't mind much when I fed her.

Just remember to give him as much attention as possible to reassure him that you still love him as much as you did before baby. Have him help you whenever possible (even if you can reach a diaper...let him get it for you...they love to pull out wipes..if he can count, have him get out two at a time...or what ever is an appropriate amount for his skill level)

With kids this close in age, you are going to be tired for the next year, at least(the first few months are the hardest). But it does get easier, and the two of them will become best friends and love each other.

Good luck!



answers from Eugene on

Hi girls are 15 months apart. At first my older daughter was so intrigued by the new baby that she just wanted to stare at her and touch her. So I taught her how to kind of "pet" her baby sisters arm and touch her softly. She would also sit next to me on the chair when I was breastfeeding and we would look at books. There were times I even sat on the floor leaning against the couch while I nursed just so I could sit next to my older daughter while she was playing. Children are great at adjusting and adapting. I'm sure that you and your son will find what works for you. Don't stress! :)



answers from Anchorage on

First of all congratulations on the new baby!!! My son was 18 mo when his little brother was born. i think the best thing to do is what you've been doing, talking to your son about the new baby and how exciting it's going to be and how there are going to be some changes. i tried to keep my eldest involved with as much as i could. he wanted to be right there while i was nursing and changing diapers and it was a little tough to have him on my lap while i was nursing but we did it. he would lose interest and go play or just sit there and watch and talk to the baby. don't try to keep him away, let him on your lap if that's what he wants. we mom's are quite amazing at how we can multi-task and juggle babies! it was the coolest thing when we brought the baby home how my son just knew who his brother was. the bond was instant and just awesome to watch. i've been told that this age span can be the best for them being the best of friends, so far i have to agree they love each other so much, its just so much fun to watch. good luck and enjoy!!



answers from Portland on

I have five younger siblings and I remember the toughest thing my mom had to do was deal with the "old" baby when the new baby came home. We are all around a year/year and a half apart.

Sometimes she would have someone take the "old" baby for a few days to give the new baby a chance to settle in.

Having some new toys to play with during that special time is a really good idea. Having a doll for your son so he has a baby to take care of is a great idea. I can remember my sisters and I sitting on the couch "nursing" our dolls.

A special snack for your son would be a good idea also.

He will love being your big helper and getting things for you. Be sure to praise him for being so big that he can help with the baby.

As others have said this time will pass. You, your son and your baby will find what works for all of you.



answers from Portland on

My two girls are only 13months apart and I can definitely say that your son is too young to understand. As much as I'd love to give you some great tips, all I can say is, it'll come in time. My oldest was always more independent so that made it a little bit easier when my youngest came home and needed my attention more. The highchair trick with a snack is GREAT and nursing box. Also if he likes music, play a special cd only when you nurse so he can dance around and play to it. My kids are now 15months and 28months and I've managed to survive (barely), so it's possible lol. Good luck and congratulations.

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