The grand reveal
It may be best to wait until you are a little along in your pregnancy or perhaps until you have a bump to tell your toddler about the new baby. This may allow your toddler to understand the concept of a baby in mummy’s tummy a little better. You may also be telling others around this time. There are exceptions to this of course, for example if your toddler is asking you questions that you really cannot seem to answer without telling him what is going on. Lots of mums agree that you follow your child’s lead. If he puts two and two together, then just let him know. If you feel that you would like to tell your toddler straight away do, just be prepared for nine months of constant questions!
A very good way to tell your toddler about the new baby and one that has been used for generation after generation is through a picture book. This allows the child to visualise what it is that you are talking about. It also allows the child to engage in what is happening and for him to ask you questions or to express his own concerns about his new role as a big brother. You may be surprised by what he is thinking about. One book that I would recommend is our own the Writing for Tiny ‘Super Duper Brother/Sister’ personalised book, which is available to order through www.writingfortiny.com. This book does work wonders according to those who have bought it and for those parents with whom we did our research. The story focuses on the child rather than the new baby. The child learns about what it means to become a big sister/brother through his encounters with seven different animals. We then see him/her meet the new baby and experience those wonderful moments with the new baby.
It is nearly time
I am always advocating the inclusion of children in decision making. I strongly believe that it eliminates much of the fear whether it be a new baby, a hospital visit or moving house, include and inform your child, obviously within reason. We all fear what we do not understand.
Include your toddler in the preparation of the baby’s room.
Ask him what toys he would not mind sharing with the new baby. Let him tell you what he would like to keep just for him.
Show him your scans, let him look, listen and feel your bump.
Tell him stories about himself as a baby, show him pictures and tell him how excited you were about his arrival. Remind him that he is just as special.
Show him the things that you have purchased for the baby. Allow him choose some things e.g. bedding. Consider buying him a little gift from the baby too.
Tell him about what will happen when you go to the hospital. Alleviate any fears of him thinking that he will lose you to the new baby. Tell him who will mind him and estimate for how long.
Explain what a typical day will be like with the new baby in the home.
Baby is here
Tell your toddler that you missed him. He has missed you and this is all very new. Reassure him that you never forgot about him and that you yourself are ok. Many toddlers worry about their mum.
Your toddler will let you know what they think about the new arrival. Let him touch and hold the new baby. Try not to be too nervous. Let him bond with the baby and allow the news to sink in.
Toddlers love to help, as we all know! Give your toddler little tasks at home that will allow him have some ownership. Maybe ask him to pack the baby’s nappy bag or prepare the blankets in the baby’s cot for example. Inclusion allows the toddler to feel important and to get to grips with his new big brother role.
Exclusion is best avoided of course. Most family members and visitors will be well aware of this and will shower your toddler with love and even gifts. If they unthinkingly ignore your toddler just gently remind them that your toddler is there too and is very sensitive to the excitement surrounding the new baby.
Visit friends in similar situations. We all like to know that we are not alone in an experience.
Keep reading! Don’t put that book away just yet. It can still help and it also allows for some one on one time.
Empathise: there may be some outbursts and tantrums. It is a hugely transitional time. Talk to your toddler and ask them what it is that is bothering them. It may be something very simple that you can fix, or it may just be a toddler’s tantrum!