As you inch your way into the third trimester, you start thinking about how you will parent a demanding toddler and newborn simultaneously. I mean, you could go cold turkey and give your toddler the surprise of a lifetime, but there’s a chance it could go horribly wrong.
Our son will be approximately 27 months old when our daughter arrives into this world in a few short months. He’s a strong willed toddler, who is very good most of the time, but like most toddlers, he also has his moments of toddler biting, hitting and other rambunctious and wild behavior. He has a dolly and sometimes he throws her across the room.
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Clearly, we are a work in progress.
I finally started to get my act together and compiled a “plan of action” to help our son prepare for his baby sister to arrive. Even as consistent and routine oriented as I am with a stay-at-home-mom schedule and all, I know the new baby arrival will involved a huge change for him.
Preparing a toddler for a new baby.
Because surviving pregnancy fatigue while caring for a toddler is challenging, I opted to keep our preparation as simple and practical as possible. I like easy.
1. Let your toddler feel the baby move.
For toddlers the world is black and white. Offering up a tangible experience such as feeling the baby actually move can help make the idea more real.
2. Talk to your toddler about the new baby coming.
Sounds easy enough right? Depending on the age of your toddler, this talk may go in one ear and out the other faster than you can say “cheerio.” Many times though, kids understand more than we think. So I say this is a worth a try!
3. Get your toddler a baby doll and practice.
Many baby experts and pediatricians share this idea, and I think it’s a great way to go. Once you have the baby doll, have your toddler practice things he or she can do as a big sibling. Examples include, touching the baby gently, getting a item from the baby’s room and bringing it to mommy, and talking to the baby.
4. Visit other families with a baby.
In lieu of a baby doll, why not try the real thing? This is a great opportunity for a toddler to practice and learn how to interact with a little baby.
5. Look at baby pictures of your toddler together.
Bring out the baby pictures or even pictures of yourself pregnant with your toddler. Talk about how he or she was a baby once and how you cared for him. Talk about your pregnant belly in the pictures and how he was in your belly at one time too.
6. Have your toddler pick out a toy or blanket for the baby as a gift.
When you are out shopping, allow your toddler to pick out an item for his new sibling. Once you arrive home have your toddler place the item in the baby’s room.
7. Allow your toddler to play and explore the baby’s room and things.
This allows your toddler to feel included in welcoming the new baby. Many times it can feel like a power struggle trying to keep a toddler from touching anything in a baby’s room. Several articles I read encouraged mothers to allow toddlers to play and enjoy the baby’s room within reason, rather than restrict.
8. Avoid other major life changes if possible.
I think we all do our best in these situations, but sometimes life happens. Keep good routines and offer as much consistency as possible before and after the birth. One wise person said to avoid moving to a big boy bed or potty training in the weeks before the birth.
If your toddler hasn’t transitioned by midway through your third trimester, it’s best to wait until things settle after the birth.
9. Read a book together about pregnant mommy bringing home baby.
This is perfect! Toddlers are very visual and seeing a story book with pictures can help immensely with understanding.
Here are a few that were highly recommended to me by other moms:
10. Have your toddler sing, talk to and kiss your belly.
Similar to touching your belly and feeling the baby kick, this too can help it seem more real to your toddler. Plus, what could be more adorable than a toddler talking to his baby sibling?
We are currently preparing our toddler for a new baby using all of these ideas. In the coming months, as we transition from a family of three to a family of four, it will be interesting to see how it all evolves, and of course share with you!
Print this free toddler listening checklist.
This post comes with a free printable checklist to help with toddler listening. I always have the hardest time remembering these phrases. This printable simplifies it!
Here is a sneak preview…
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- Download the checklist. You’ll get the printable, plus join 20,000+ parents who receive my weekly parenting tips and ideas!
- Print. Any paper will do the trick, but card stock would be ideal.
- Place it on your refrigerator. Check things off as you go and don’t forget a thing!
Want more on pregnancy and toddlers?
- How to Survive Pregnancy Fatigue While Caring for a Toddler Too
- 27 Brilliant Things to Know About Pregnancy
- One Simple Trick to Help Kids Fall Asleep Fast
- 9 Phrases That Change Life with a Toddler
What’s your best tip for preparing a toddler for a new baby? Let’s chat in the comments!
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