Infant Tips

Preparing Toddler for the Arrival of Baby #2

I am by no means an expert on this topic, therefore I have been doing some research on things that expecting parents can do to ease the transition for their toddler. My son D recently turned three, and to date he has been great with the news of a baby sister. There have certainly been a couple of moments where he was maybe a little rougher than I would have liked him to be, but I honestly couldn’t ask for anything better in terms of his attitude towards the baby. He constantly hugs, rubs and kisses my belly, and often tries to lift my shirt so he can show off his baby sister “Lulu.” It is so incredibly sweet.

However, as great as he’s been to date, I know there are going to be some feelings of jealousy and moments where he feels left out once she actually arrives. Because of that, I have been asking around and reading articles on ways to help the transition. Below are some of the tips I feel will be helpful to my family.
  1. Put a picture of the older sibling on the hospital bassinet. That way, when the older sibling comes to visit they will know you’ve already told the baby about them. It will make them feel special.
  2. Gifts. If your friends and family are bringing a gift for the baby, either encourage them to bring a little something for the older child, or wait to open the baby’s gift when your toddler isn’t watching. Oh, and a gift from baby to the older sibling is a great idea too!
  3. Ask that visitors greet the older child first, versus immediately drawing attention to the new baby. A friend of mine recently told me to put a note on the hospital door when D is visiting that says “Big brother is visiting. Please say hi to him first.”
  4. Buy your toddler a “big brother, big sister” special gift. My husband and I plan to get D a good toddler appropriate camera so he can capture his own special pictures.
  5. Designate special mommy and daddy time with the older child. The new baby will certainly require a great deal of our time, but I am going to make it a point to designate certain times for just D and I to do some of his favorite activities, like taking a walk, going to the park, going to the beach, or maybe it’s Saturday breakfast at the local diner with either me or daddy.
  6. Involve them as much as possible. I am going to make becoming mommy’s “special helper” a big deal. He loves being the teacher’s helper at school and always wants to help around the house, so I think this will be really important for us.
  7. Read books about babies to your toddler. This is something I haven’t done yet, but I think it only makes sense.
  8. Bring out all of your toddler’s baby pictures. They will love seeing themselves as babies and may help them to realize just how small this baby will be when they arrive.
  9. Prepare for baby sooner than later. In other words, set up the baby’s nursery; pull out the bouncer, swing and baby clothes so that your toddler has ample time to get familiar with everything.
  10. Prepare toddler for your hospital visit. Make them aware that you will be gone for a couple of days but that they can come and visit. Hopefully whoever is watching them has some really fun activities planned that you can hype up beforehand.

Here I am at 34 weeks along. Besides the normal hip pain and trouble sleeping at night, I feel great, and am very grateful for that.

What advice can you share to help with this transition?

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Dr. Levine

Dr. Alanna Levine is a New York based pediatrician and a mom of two children.