If you landed here, you’re probably a little bit (or a lot a bit) nervous about preparing your toddler for a new baby. Introducing a new baby to the family is a big deal. And as we just went through the whole process, we’re going to share some of our best tips to successfully prepare your toddler to meet the new addition.
Share the wonderful news
Let’s start with what we assume is step one in the process of preparing your toddler for a new baby. How do you go about telling them? Of course you can never completely prepare for your kid/s reaction. But there are a couple things we did to help deliver the news.
Get a New Book
Our 3 year old LOVES books. If your kiddo is the same, this is an excellent way to share the news with them. This one is especially good for younger kids that may not grasp the concept of a new baby and a new book can help illustrate the point. Here are the books we went with (and they were a HIT):
Adorable. Just adorable. We got it because the illustrations are super cute, it’s funny, and big bold words which make it an easy read for a toddler.
Olivia: A Guide to Being a Big Sister
Our 3 year is aptly named Olivia. So naturally, we had to get this one. But have you read the Olivia books? They are super cute. Again, pretty simple bold text, which make them an easy read. And they are great because you can collect them all.
We have a little girl at home so those are the books we chose. But if you have a little boy, soon-to-be big brother, this book is super duper cute. And a great way to introduce your kiddo to big brother status.
The other thing we did was give our toddler a big sister shirt to wear around. This is actually how she announced the baby news to the grandparents, but she also wanted to wear it all the time. She felt like a superhero in that thing. And it was just another great way to reinforce the new baby idea.
Do Something Together Before the New Baby Arrives
This could be anything. Whatever you love doing together. For us, this was in the form of a trip. We wanted to spend some time together as a family of 3 before all the excitement of becoming a family of 4. A trip helped us have some one-on-one time together during a time when everything is changing. Even though the baby isn’t here yet, your toddler will notice your tummy getting bigger, items coming in for the baby, people talking about the baby. So it’s nice to just have some extra time focused just on your little kiddo.
Sidenote: this could be as simple as doing an activity together over the weekend. Just as long as your little one has your full attention.
Practice Makes Perfect
One of the things you can do while preparing your toddler for a new baby is to practice what it will be like when the baby comes. Our 2 year old already had a baby doll, but we bought a few accessories for it, like a bottle, diapers, and a stroller. Most of these things are fairly inexpensive and can teach your toddler valuable skills caring for a new baby. That way, she’ll already be a bit familiar when she sees you do it. And you can teach him/her how to be gentle with their baby doll just like with their new sibling.
Another variation of this is to go visit a friend or family member with a baby. Your toddler can see how you and others in the room interact with the baby so she has an idea of how it will be and get some practice. Because let’s be honest, who isn’t a visual learner?
What toddler doesn’t love a good story? This is another method you can use when preparing your toddler for a new baby. Stories are often interactive and effective with toddler age. We told stories of when our little one was a baby. We showed her pictures and videos. And it was just a nice way for her to understand what babies are like and really grasp the concept a little better of how life will be with a new sibling. To a toddler, they may think when the baby comes he/she will be able to play, run, walk, and do all the activities that your toddler can do. Sharing stories and photos can help illustrate the point that babies mainly eat, sleep, and poop at first. And not much else.
Try to Avoid Major Routine Changes
Kids, adults, we’re all the same. Too much change all at once can be overwhelming. To make the transition easier and help prepare your toddler for a new baby, try to keep as much as you can consistent outside of the pregnancy. This will help keep some things normal in your toddler’s life and make it a little easier on them. Of course, things happen and you can only control so much. So don’t worry too much and just do what you can. We tried to start potty training our toddler earlier in pregnancy. Of course, some of that carried into the pregnancy as a whole, but we tried to at least account for those major routine changes early on.
Who Doesn’t Love a New Baby Gift?
You’ve probably heard of this advice before, but we did it with a little bit of a twist. Instead of just giving our toddler a gift when the new baby came, we prepared a gift FROM the new baby to our toddler. And took it a step further and allowed her to give a gift TO the new baby. This not only allowed her to get something that made her feel special when the baby came (and a lot of the attention is scattered all over the place), but it also reinforced the idea of sharing. Two birds, one stone.
At the end of the day, kids are all different, so do what works best for your family and little one. Preparing your toddler for a new baby is no walk in the park. It’s a major change. And just remember, even if your toddler doesn’t like the new baby at first, soon they will grow to be the best of friends.