As many of you know, my husband and I welcomed our second baby into the world last month. Our older son is 2-years-old and was pretty used to being the center of attention, so we weren’t sure how he was going to handle the new addition. He ended up doing surprisingly well, and he adores his baby brother. Some of that may just be due to chance, but there were several things that we did to prepare our toddler for the new baby that I like to think had something to do with his excitement.
Here are 10 things we did to prepare Aidan for the new baby:
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How We Prepared Our Toddler for the New Baby
We read books about babies and being a big brother.
Our two favorites were:
We talked to him about it.
I talked to Aidan about the new baby every single day of my pregnancy. I told him how big the baby was and described his new developments. I talked to him about being a big brother and what that meant. And I made sure to tell him each and every day that he would always be special and important to me.
We referred to the baby as “our baby.”
I read this advice in several blog posts, and I know it helped! Rather than talking about “the” baby or Mommy & Daddy’s baby, I made sure to refer to him as “our baby” so that Aidan would feel included in the family dynamic. I had read that the more ownership the older sibling feels, the less he or she will feel displaced when the baby comes, and I think we’ve seen that in Aidan!
We made a big deal about him being Mommy’s Helper.
Aidan loves to help. Whether it’s helping me with chores or helping Daddy fix things around the house, the kid loves to be a big helper. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve leveraged this quality as we’ve transitioned into a four-person family. As we got closer to Andrew’s arrival, I started making a big deal about Aidan’s new role as Big Brother, and we talked a lot about how he was going to be my big helper. Now that Andrew is here, I’m still trying to make it seem as important as I can, and I can see Aidan feels good about his new role.
We practiced having him sit next to me.
I knew that when the baby came and I was nursing all the time, I wouldn’t be able to hold Aidan in my lap as much as he was used to. To prevent this from feeling like an abrupt change, I started having Aidan sit next to me when I read to him in the last few months of my pregnancy. (A growing tummy made this a necessity by the end, anyway!) By the time Andrew arrived, sitting next to me while I nursed and read didn’t seem at all strange to him.
We practiced being gentle.
Like any 2-year-old, Aidan can get a little overly excited and rambunctious at times. I was a little concerned about him getting too intense or rough with the baby, so I helped him practice being gentle. We practiced being gentle petting the dog, we practiced being gentle when he gave hugs, and we practiced being gentle giving hugs and kisses to my tummy. I’ve heard of people using dolls to practice, too. We didn’t do that with Aidan, but I think it’s a great idea!
We let him feel my tummy.
I encouraged Aidan to feel my tummy as much as possible, especially when the baby was moving. Since he’s only two, I wasn’t sure how much he understood the whole concept of a baby in mommy’s tummy. I figured feeling the baby move would help solidify it in his mind, and I think it did. The first time he felt the baby kick, the surprised look on his face was priceless! After that, he seemed to have a better understanding of a baby being in mommy’s tummy.
Related Post: My Epic List of Tips for a Fabulous Pregnancy
We included him in naming the baby.
We wanted to include Aidan as much as possible in the preparations, so we regularly asked him what he thought we should name the baby. His three contributions were Baby, Toys, & Grandma. Needless to say, we didn’t go with any of his suggestions, but I know he liked that we asked him!
We encouraged him to talk to the baby.
To help him form a bond with his little brother, I encouraged Aidan to talk to him in the womb. I gave him prompts of things to talk about, like his favorite foods, his favorite TV shows, and his favorite things to do at the babysitter’s house. At first, he seemed confused, but as my belly and his understanding grew, he began to really enjoy talking to the baby.
We made gradual transitions.
Aidan is very much a creature of habit. He does not deal well with change, and transitions have historically been rough on him. The arrival of the new baby was going to be a big enough change in itself, but it was also bringing several other changes. He was going to have to transition to a new bed, a new room, and a new babysitter. That’s a lot of changes for a little guy who’s uncomfortable with change! To make the transition as smooth as possible for him, we instituted the changes gradually throughout the summer.
As you can see, we were very intentional about preparing Aidan for the new baby. You can use any of these tips or others that you see/hear as you prepare your own toddler, but I think the key is to be intentional and start early. A new baby is a big adjustment for everyone, and just as I’m sure you’ve taken steps to prepare yourself, your toddler needs time and space to prepare, as well.
And finally, congratulations and good luck! I’m rooting for you! 🙂
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