8 simple ways to prepare your toddler for the new baby

I am pregnant with my second child. My son who is almost three is not happy. Any suggestions to help us through this?


Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

It is no wonder that your son is unsettled about the changes to come. I always am suspicious when a parent tells me how excited a toddler or very young child is about the prospects of a new brother or sister. The analogy that helps me understand this the best is to describe a husband (or wife) coming home one day and trying to sell his or her family on the idea of a new wife and mother coming to live with them. "You'll love it," "it will be so much fun -- she'll be younger and you can play with her ..."

1. Read anything by T. Berry Brazelton. He is a sensitive, yet practical resource for such dilemmas. His book, "What Every Baby Knows" deals with sibling preparation.

2. Talk to your child. It is very important to talk to your little one about the changes. Assure him that there will always be one-on-one time with each of the parents. Emphasize his special place in the family. Let him vent his feelings of wanting to be your baby. Prepare for him to regress a bit when the new baby comes.

3. Teach him how to do "big boy" things. My two year old helped put all of the baby's clothes away in drawers.

4. Help fill his life with friends. If he doesn't go to preschool yet, why not start a neighborhood playgroup. Try having an overnight with friends if he seems ready for this. At this young age I know it is harder, but this is an important time to bond to other children who may have siblings.

5. Take him along to your appointments. If you are able to hear the heart tones with a doppler, have him listen. This makes the baby a real person. I often ask the older child if he or she would like to listen to their own heart. This connects them to the baby. Let him stand on a chair next to you during the abdominal exam and help feel the baby as it grows.

6. Bring out the pictures. Show him photos of when you were pregnant with him and his early baby pictures.

7. Have him buy the baby a special present. He can give to him or her on the day of the birth (Be sure to buy one for him too, from the new baby.)

8. Consider involving him in the birth. Be sure you are comfortable having him there -- you will need a support person present just for him. Spend time with him visiting the place you will give birth.

Get books on childbirth for children:

  • On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier
  • How You Were Born by Joanna Cole
  • You Were Born on Your Very First Birthday by Linda Girard
  • Being Born by Sheila Kitzinger
  • The Day I was Born by Marjorie Sharmat
  • A Baby is Born by Milton Levine
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