There are tons of things you can do to make the adjustment process easier for everyone. Here are just a few:
- Tell your older child about your pregnancy when you tell your friends. It’s important that he/she hears this from you, and not someone else!
- If any (other) big changes are coming up in your toddler’s life, like moving to a new bed or bedroom, toilet training, or starting preschool, plan to get through them before the baby arrives.
- Constantly talk to your baby about the baby arriving, giving him or her a realistic idea of what to expect. For example, let him or her know that the baby will take up a lot of your time and that the baby will not be able to do much at first!
- Sit down with your toddler and look at pictures and videos of his or her birth and baby days. This will give a better picture of what to expect.
- If it’s possible, visit friends with a new baby.
- Let your older child participate in the preparations as much as possible. For example, you can let him or her decide the new baby’s first outfit between two choices.
Another thing that works, and if you’ve read my previous blog posts then you guessed it: reading about it to you toddler. Books are powerful tools that help children identify and comprehend new feelings and situations. They spark up conversations between you and your toddler about their doubts, worries and mixed feelings about the new baby. Plus, it’s a great way to spend one-on-one quality time cuddled up together! There are lots of amazing children’s books about pregnancy, adoption, and new siblings. Take a look at these:
I’m a big sister! / I’m a big brother! by Johanna Cole: I personally love Johanna Cole’s way of telling this story through the eyes of an older sister or brother. The book talks about what to expect from a new baby and reminds older siblings that they are just as special.
Once your new baby arrives, remember that although it sounds ideal, it’s not possible to split your time evenly with one and the other because new babies require so much from you. What you can do is set aside special time for your older child. Try to spend at least 15 minutes of daily uninterrupted one-on-one time, letting him or her choose how you spend it.
Have any book suggestions of your own? Let us know!