Preparing Your Child for a New Baby
Pregnancy is an exciting time for your entire family, but chances are, your toddler may not understand or share your enthusiasm. When it comes time to bring the baby home, you might be surprised by your little one’s reaction; depending on his or her temperament, it could take a while for him to get used to the situation and fall into a new routine. He may initially act out, engaging in uncharacteristic behaviors, or begin to cling to you more than he ever has before. There are a variety of things that you can do, though, to help your child accept the new baby. The following tips will help.
During your pregnancy, use literature to help explain the situation to your toddler and give him an idea of what to expect. Purchase a few books and also use the library to pick up additional resources; there are a large number of them on the market. When your toddler hears a story about a new baby, or about being a big brother, it allows him to get a better handle on what you are talking about, particularly if his vocabulary is not that developed yet. Talk about each picture and point out things that you see on the pages. Visual references are extremely helpful for toddlers. In addition, the storybook characters can serve as a good role model for your child.
Once the baby arrives, work hard to make your older child feel special. Even if he is just a year or two old, he can probably follow simple commands; ask him to go get a diaper or allow him to pick out the baby’s clothes. If the baby is upset, have him come over and kiss the baby, exclaiming over how much the newborn loves his big brother. Make sure to praise your toddler as much as possible for the good things that he does, and mention how much you appreciate all the help that he is giving you.
Set aside special time just for your toddler each day. You may have to get creative with when you are able to do this, and it may have to wait until your partner is home. Allow your child to choose an activity for the two of you to do together, and make sure to give him your undivided attention while you are playing. You don’t have to do the activity for long; even ten to fifteen minutes is enough to remind your little one that he is just as important as the new baby.
Finally, don’t force your toddler to interact with the baby if he is resisting. Some children react to the presence of a newborn by simply ignoring him or her. This won’t last forever, so it is best to simply allow your child to do what is comfortable for him.
It may initially be hard for your toddler to get used to the idea of sharing his or her parents, but with time and a little effort on your part, he will come around. Use the ideas in this article to help you make the transition easier for your little one.