After discovering the wonderful news that you are expecting your second baby, your immediate thoughts probably revolve around everything you need to get organised before your second bundle of joy arrives. However, not only do you and your partner need to prepare yourselves, but you also have to prepare your first child for what to expect in the coming months.
- How and when to share the news?
If you have a young toddler, it is advised that you wait until you start to show before explaining to them that you’re going to have another baby. The visual of your growing baby bump will help them better understand that you are carrying a baby.
- Preparing your toddler before the birth
Mummy will have to carry the baby a lot like I once did with you
In order to prepare your toddler for the homecoming of a little baby brother or sister, it might be a good idea to whip out the baby albums. Show them images of them as a baby and explain to them that ‘mummy will have to carry the baby a lot like I once did with you’ and that the ‘baby will need a lot of mummy’s time and attention.’ This will help them more readily adjust to all the attention your new born will receive.
- Include your toddler
If you have the patience, think about bringing them to the odd doctor’s appointment of ante-natal class. By letting them listen to the baby’s heartbeat and showing them an image of your scan, it will help them better visualise the baby and hopefully get them excited about being an older sibling.
- Keep them busy
Going into labour can happen unexpectedly, which can be quite hard for your toddler, so it is best to have a plan set out for them a few weeks in advance of your due date. Organise something fun for them to look forward to when you have to go into hospital, such as having a family member come over to look after them and bake some cakes or bring them to the cinema. Keeping them busy while you are in hospital will help them keep their minds of you and your partner being gone for a few days.
- Gifts & Praise
When you give birth to your new baby, family and friends will flock to see you with gifts in hand for the new born. They may not think of your elder child, so to prevent any ill feelings of exclusion, make sure you have a stash of gifts to present to your toddler at any given time. It is also important that you include your toddler in the praise that your new born baby will receive from family and friend. Start conversations by saying ‘don’t we have two beautiful children’ or ‘the baby is lucky to have such a wonderful older brother/sister.’ This will make them feel equally special and keep them content during an overwhelming time.
Having already given birth to one child, you probably have mastered the art of multi-tasking. It is now time to put your skills to the test; try spending time with both your new born and toddler together. For instance, while you’re nursing your baby, try reading to your toddler. This will help your toddler feel included and help prevent a few attention-seeking tantrums.
- Include your toddler in a few baby chores
Making your toddler feel useful during this period will help them adjust. Get them involved in tasks like bath time and nappy changing, then praise them for being a ‘good brother or a sister.’ This will help them take pride in the role of being an elder sibling.
- Prepare for regression
No matter how much effort you put in trying to make this time an easy transition for your toddler, it is likely that they will regress in an attempt to call attention themselves. This is a normal response to introducing your toddler to their first sibling, so do not panic if you notice your once well-mannered toddler abrupt in a dramatic tantrum here or there. You may not be able to prevent these outbursts all together, but you can help them learn to manage them by promising them some special time with you if they calm down.
Introducing a child to a new sibling may be a challenging task, but ultimately you are giving them the wonderful experience of being an older sibling, which they will learn to appreciate and even enjoy in time to come. Just remember to baby them from time to time too!