Prepare toddler for new baby: 7 ways
My clients are often asking me if I have any tips on how to help prepare their older child or children, particularly toddlers, for their new baby on the way. Any time of change can be one of big emotions and it’s essential to approach this from a place of loving support and of nurturing, including your youngsters in the journey. In this blog post, expert child behavioural consultant Stephanie Wicker give us her advice and suggestions for the seven best way to handle things.
As always, let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Preparing your youngster for the baby’s arrival!
Congratulations, you just found out you are having another baby! It might be awhile before your head returns from the clouds. When it does, some questions may begin to sink in.
“What about my toddler?”,
“Will they be jealous?” and
“What can I do to prepare my toddler for the baby??”
Bringing a new bub into the home means change for everyone. Anyone sharing a roof with a newborn will be affected. While this is a magical time for families, it can also be a little overwhelming for the children already living in the home.
As a behaviour specialist, I have seen and heard it all. It’s important to understand the impact this change has on the entire family. It’s common for parents to experience an influx in difficult behaviour, emotions and some ‘baby-like’ behaviour from your toddler or three year old during this adjustment period.
Here are a handful of ways you can support your youngster before and after bringing the new baby home.
1. Sharing your experience with your child.
Children are curious by nature. By sharing your experience of pregnancy and motherhood with your child they can begin preparing their own mind for the upcoming changes.
“Feel mummy’s tummy. Did you feel the kick? That’s your brother. He’ll be here soon.”
2. Including your child in the experience.
Kiddos love being part of what is happening around them. You may enjoy including them in the planning process!
“What colour should we paint his room?”
“Which toy do you think we should buy?”
“How can we prepare for baby?”
3. Guide your child’s search for their new role.
Children go through several stages where they question their role. We can anticipate these minor identity crisis moments and support them through it using guiding questions. This allows them to find and create their new role as a sibling.
“How can you be a good big sister to the baby?”
“What are some ways you can help with the baby?”
“What does becoming a big sister mean to you?”
4. Allow for questions and emotions.
Having a new baby in the house will be an emotional time for everyone. Remember that your child is a person too and has feelings of their own. It’s okay for her/him to explore those emotions during this new change in the family. You can open the communication by being available when questions and emotions do arise.
5. Avoid placing blame.
“Don’t do that to the baby.” Or “You shouldn’t be so upset, you’re four!”
These statements place blame onto your young child and can amplify their heightened emotions.
6. Share stories.
Stories are a powerful way to create some accurate expectations for your child before and when the baby arrives. By walking through what they think it will be like you are opening opportunities to add to their expectations so they are well prepared.
“What will it be like when…”
“What do you think will happen when…”
You can follow up with likely images of what to expect:
“Mummy will be feeding the baby a lot. What will you play in the living room while mummy changes nappies?”
7. Role play.
Lastly, incorporating role play is always a lot of fun and provides ample opportunity to communicate with any aged child. Role play is a chance to practice and experience what may come first hand providing clarity and, again, establishing expectations which is so helpful for our little ones.
“Let’s pretend the baby is here!”
“Show me how you’ll feed him.”
“Let’s pretend we are putting baby to sleep.”
Finally, I want to end with keeping it simple. Kiddos are more flexible than we are most times. By keeping it simple and being sure to not overthink it or over-plan, you will reduce your own anxiety around the transition modelling a calm, happy expectancy for your little one.
So, take it easy mama and enjoy these noisy, messy moments because they don’t last forever!
Stephanie Wicker is a child behaviour expert, parenting educator, counsellor and speaker - who has successfully guided families through early childhood for over 15 years. Through her experience with private consultancy, as a preschool teacher and special needs therapist - she has worked across the many facets of early childhood behaviour. Stephanie's evidence-based programs are grounded in behaviour science and her passion for Relational Frame Theory (RFT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and developmental psychology all play a big role in her programs. Stephanie hosts live training events all over Australia, where she shares her practical solutions and language techniques, along with providing private, in-home therapy sessions for those seeking more personalised support. Through her company, Simply Kids she provides family resources such as digital books and educational activities, designed to keep behaviour simple.
About Essential Me
Hi, I'm Amanda. I support women and couples during their pregnancy, birth and postnatal journey as a Doula, Ka Huna massage therapist and Pilates instructor. I'm Based in Sydney and would love to help you. Please check out my Top 10 Tips for the best possible birth experience here. I'd love to meet you for an obligation free interview to see if you feel we're the right fit. Contact me here. Thanks, Amanda x