While you are glowing with health and happiness as you are expecting your second child, there is a nagging worry at the back of your mind. You are worried about your toddler’s reaction and behaviour towards the baby. That’s the reason why you must prepare your toddler well in advance before the baby comes.
Keep on reading to know how to prepare your toddler for a new baby and learn a few tips from experienced mothers.
Break the news: It’s better to break the news to your toddler about the new baby as early as possible, so that your toddler has ample time to get used to the idea. You can do this with the help of a book like What to Expect When Mommy's Having a Baby, The New Baby, The Berenstain Bear’s New Baby or any other age-appropriate book.
Be reassuring: A child might worry about the new baby snatching from her the love of her parents. So assure your toddler that a new baby won’t change the way you love her. However, Shravani Mathur, an active mommy blogger, advises, “Even though we told our elder daughter that we would still love her very much and take care of her, we were honest in telling her that with the new baby, a few things might change. For example, as the baby would be small, mommy will be holding the baby a lot or the baby will cry a lot initially and mommy will need to feed the baby.”
Explain your pregnancy: Without going into too much detail, explain your toddler what a pregnancy is. You can show her the photos of your first pregnancy and gush over her baby pictures. This will help her understand how your body will change as the pregnancy advances, and also that a new born baby cannot walk or play with her.
Make changes earlier: Making changes in your toddler’s life too close to your due date will make her resent her new sibling. Shilpy Goel, a mother of two, suggests, “Any last minute changes like moving to a new bed, weaning her or potty training will make your toddler associate them with the baby’s arrival. Hence, we shifted our elder born to his bedroom much before the baby came.”
Teach about babies: By holding play dates with friends or family who have younger babies, you can teach your toddler how to handle a baby. Or else, give your child a baby doll, and teach her to touch the baby gently, not to poke the baby’s eyes and nose, and not to lift the baby.
Encourage baby bonding: Rama Mehta remembers her second pregnancy and tells, “Once I started feeling the baby kicks in my 4th month, I encouraged my son to feel my growing tummy and the kicks. He would squeal in delight when the baby kicked. It helped him bond with his sibling even before he entered his world.” A few other things you can try with your toddler are getting her to talk or sing nursery rhymes to the baby, see the ultrasound and listen to the baby’s heartbeat, suggest newborn baby names and accompany you to baby-related shopping trips.
Last but the most important thing to remember is to go with the flow. There is no right or wrong way to deal with your elder child. Every child has different sensibilities so don’t expect them to mature overnight and behave the way you expect them to do. You know your child best; hence try to understand her feelings and deal them with patience and love.
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