Once the excitement (or shock) sinks in of having another baby when you already have a toddler at home, you may be left with many questions.
Will my toddler still love me? Will they get jealous? How do I prepare them for my growing bump and the baby's arrival? These are all very valid questions!
Many families go into 'over preparing' their little one - telling them they'll be an amazing big brother or sister (I'm guilty!) or going to the book store and buying every 'big brother/sister' book they can find (guilty again!!).
Chris Minogue has over 35 years experience working with families and has developed a practical approach to nearly every parenting question you might have - including this very topic.
We asked Chris to share with us her top 5 tips for how best to prepare your toddler for the new arrival - or 'intruder' as it may just turn out.
1. Don't 'overtalk' about the baby
They might know something is happening if they have been coming to your appointments or are noticing your growing baby bump - but it doesn't mean you need to keep talking about 'the baby'!
For your toddler, this is often like saying Santa is coming in December when it's only March. The more over the top you are about the baby's arrival, won't necessarily make them more accepting - having them come peacefully into the family will.
2. Preparing for the hospital
In the weeks leading up to your baby's arrival, your toddler will start noticing the car seat, bassinet or nursery being set up. These are all visual cues that something is about to change and the perfect time to prepare your little one using simple language and age appropriate explanations.
Around 2 weeks beforehand, why not take them for a drive past the hospital and simply explain 'Mummy is going to come here for a few nights to get the baby.' They may ask who is going to look after them? 'Daddy or Grandma is coming'... keep it practical. It is important that their daily activities/routine stays as consistent and 'normal' as possible during this time.
3. The Hospital Visit
Some people like to shower the toddler with gifts - but I often wonder what that tells the toddler? It's the baby's birthday and I get all the gifts? What happens when visitors bring gifts for the baby and not the toddler - a meltdown? Just introduce the baby as part of the family from the very beginning - it's the baby's birthday!
4. Feeding with a toddler around
If you need to feed the baby when the toddler visits, suggest they sit beside you! You need to explain that mummy needs to feed the baby and not whip the baby off and put it down. This will work against you when you get home, as the toddler will expect you to put the baby down every time they demand your attention.
5. Exploring the baby
Let your toddler explore the baby by touching the hands and feet - but be sure to protect the face. By doing this, they wont be curious about the baby and you will avoid having to say 'No. Stop. Don't' - which may trigger a reaction or even tantrum. The word 'Gentle' will be enough.
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