Thursday, 4 September 2014

Ask the Expert: Preparing your toddler for a new arrival

It's so exciting for a family awaiting a new arrival, but in all the excitement can come a few upset and difficult times for siblings-to-be.

Here I share my tops tips for making the waiting fun, fabulous and above all else - stress free!

Preparation is the key!
It's so important to prepare your little one for the arrival of a sibling. Talk about the new arrival, when it will be coming and talk about what will happen. However, don't go overboard in the early months. Nine months is a long time for young children, who have limited time understanding, to wait, so wait until you are perhaps past the first 3-4 months of pregnancy so the waiting time for them doesn't seem like forever.

Talk about new babies by looking at books
There are some fabulous books about babies - one of my favourites being 'There's a house inside my mummy.' It tells a lovely story of mummy having a baby, without getting too complicated.
Books are great because once you have read them together, your little one can sit back and look through the pictures, taking it all in at their own pace. They also encourage talking through any worries your little one may have about the new arrival or indeed you. Especially if you have been poorly through your pregnancy. 

Don't go overboard on baby chat!
It is so exciting having a baby - but it's important to not over do it too much around your little one. Ask friends to perhaps tone it down a little, not ask lots about baby in-front of your little one.
I'm not suggesting to stop talking about the new arrival altogether, but often little ones can get worried and feel left out before baby has even been born if it's talked about too much.

Let them help choose things for baby!
Even if your little one is very young it's a nice idea to let them choose something for their new siblings room. If they are sharing a room, let them choose a toy or picture or for the wall, perhaps a blanket, or rug too.

If they are older and you're feeling very brave, let them help with the decorating too! 
Whatever you choose to do, let them feel included in the preparation for the new arrival. By choosing things for the baby - they'll understand more that it is the baby's room and the baby's things.

Dolls are great!
Buying a baby doll for your little one is a great way of letting them feel included in the new baby care routine. When Baby is born they'll have their very own 'baby' to care for which will make having a new sibling even more fun and exciting!
Encourage your little one to change nappies together with you (they change their dolly) and even feed (My daughter loved to pretend to breastfeed her dolly!)

Expect a little jealousy!
With a new baby can often come a new set of emotions - jealousy! Don't worry at all - jealousy is totally normal and there will be tears or tantrums on occasions, so prepare for this.
Try and make time to have special daddy or mummy time with your older child so they get that special 'them' time back each week.
Encourage them to be involved with the new baby, tell them how helpful they are and what a super big brother or sister they are helping you. Bathing them together is a great bonding experience, or encourage them to help you give the baby a gentle massage.
 It's hard work when you have a second or third baby - but making time for both little ones equally, makes it a much easier journey.

It's hard work looking after one baby, so you may feel a little overwhelmed when you have your second or third baby!
A baby boredom basket for your older child will come in really handy when you need to be with baby (feeding etc) so they can get out the baby boredom basket and be entertained.  This was especially helpful for me with two very close together.
Have the baby boredom basket or box filled with small toys that only come out at 'baby boredom' times. This will keep them entertained while you need to focus on baby and you'll feel less like needing 8 arms and legs to cope!
Ensure you swap around the toys in it so it's always exciting.

If it's possible - spend time with friends or family who have young babies. Let your little one interact and talk about them.
Talk about what babies need, how they sleep a lot or feed a lot, so that when the new baby arrives they are prepared for their size and not that they are a ready-made play partner! Many little ones are hugely disappointed when parents fail to point out that it will be a long time until the baby will be playmate ready!

Special one-to-one time
8. Try and ensure you have one-to-one time with your older child whenever possible.
Set aside an hour or so each week if you can so you have just you and your older child time. It doesn't have to be going anywhere, it could just be doing a painting together or reading some stories, or even a quick trip to the park. Just some simple  'reassurance time' that you are still their mummy/daddy too.

I hope these tips help you as they have lots of other parents over the years and wish you lots of good luck and happiness with your new arrival!
For more of Fi's top tips check out our 'Ask the Expert' page. 

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant advice, we are buying Sienna her first baby doll to take with us to the hospital, it will be a present from her little brother/sister so she has a baby like mummy too :) xx