Tips to Prepare Your Toddler for a New Sibling
It could be mistaken that by publishing a post on a certain topic, I consider myself an expert in said topic. That couldn't be further from the truth- especially today. Though my toddler is going to have a new sibling any day, I don't feel like I've done everything I can to prepare her. It hasn't even been my main focus, honestly.
Which gives me all the more reason to write this post. I know lots of mommies who either have multiple children or are getting ready to add another. So in hopes that it will provide a little bit of insight for the newbies (like myself) and that the seasoned pros would chime in with their advice- I wanted to open up the conversation.
Preparing to have your second child is a COMPLETELY different story than your first. I feel much less worried about the "what-ifs" in pregnancy and much more confident in my abilities to birth and take care of a newborn. It's when Evie comes in that I get a little nervous. Up until now she has been my one and only focus (besides AJ and the house and the blog and what we're going to eat and.....you know what I mean...). I've been able to give her my undivided attention whenever she needed it. When she cried I was right there. When she wanted a banana, I gave her the banana.
But now, as I'm literally days from introducing her to her sister, I'm wondering if I should have been more intentional with preparing her. She's almost 19 months old, so the scope of what she can understand is limited. I'm pretty sure she thinks my belly
the actual baby at this point...
Given my limited experience on the issue, I asked some of my friends who have done this before for advice. And I got some gems that I've been applying at home (and plan on applying once baby arrives), but I wanted to also share them here in case they'll be helpful to any of you!
Talk about babies in a positive way.
This feels like a no brainer- but even if you're referring to the baby as "your tummy", it's important that your child has a positive association with it. I've been reading lots of books about babies and becoming a big sister with E, and I hope it will help when the actual baby gets here!
Start making them wait.
I read this tip somewhere and it's stuck with me ever since. When there's only one baby, it's easy to give them what they need/want immediately. I've started telling E that I'll get her something once I finish what I'm doing, or that she can go outside once she finishes eating...etc. Again, this is basically common sense, but I think it's important to be intentional to minimize the shock to them as much as possible.
Get them on a good schedule.
This has been the one I'm freaking out about the most. Evie hasn't been the greatest sleeper and I worried for a long time that I wouldn't be able to handle a newborn
Evie waking up at night. Luckily, she has been sleeping through the night and going down super easily for most of my pregnancy, but if you haven't gotten #1 on a solid sleep schedule, now would be the time to do it!
(The rest of the tips are for AFTER baby comes- which I found super helpful and will definitely be using).
Schedule a special "sleep-over" for when you go into labor.
Whether it's with one of your parents, a sibling or close friend, figuring out what to do with your kiddo once you go into labor that won't make them feel neglected is important. Maybe do a few practice nights, if they're up for it.
Give them something special to give the new baby (or a special present from the baby to them).
I can't decide if Evie is too young for this or not- but I think it's an awesome idea to ease the shock of seeing mommy holding another baby.
Have a designated activity for them to do during feedings.
This one was awesome for me to hear from several of my friends. One momma told me she set up a snack station for her older child right next to where she nursed the new baby. Someone also told me they got a doll for their child to feed while they fed the baby- both super solid ideas!
Go with the flow and don't worry when you can't handle everything at once.
This is for the moms, not the kids, but I need to hear it so I'm sharing it! There will be times when both kids are crying and you can't cater to all their needs at once. That's fine. Take a breath and decide which need it most important. You got this.
To those who have done this before, what advice can you offer us first-time-second-time moms?