So you’re going to be a mum again – but this time there are some fears mingled with the joy. How will your beloved firstborn take the news there’s another baby on the way?
‘It’s normal to be worried about how your first child will cope, and if you could ever love a second baby as much,’ says Ruth Coppard, a chartered child psychologist .
The truth is your firstborn will manage just fine and so will you, but there are things you can do to help make things easier.
Get your timing right
Don’t blurt out the news the moment you find out you’re expecting. Nine months is an eternity for a toddler. Try and wait until the baby starts moving before you tell your firstborn: feeling the kicks will help make it more real.
Set the scene
It’s hard for a toddler to understand where a new baby comes from and what having a sibling will mean. Books and pictures are a great way to explain.
Read stories about new babies, and look through old baby photos together as you tell her she’s going to have a new brother or sister.
If you need your toddler to switch bedrooms or move into a bed from her cot, to make room for the new baby, do it in plenty of time.
Try and make it into a big adventure and a positive move rather than something that has to be done to make space for the new arrival.
As your due date approaches, you’ll also need to prepare your first child for what will happen to her when you go into labour.
‘Children are afraid of the unexpected, so keep it light – Mummy will go into hospital and you’ll stay with Granny,’ advises Ruth.
Visit other babies
Try and spend time with friends who have second or third babies so your child can meet a baby before her sibling is born. Don’t force her to hold or cuddle the baby unless she wants to, though.
Get her involved
There are some great practical ways you can help an older toddler feel involved with her new baby brother or sister. Maybe she could help choose a colour scheme for the baby’s room or bedding.
Get the first meeting right
Make sure you are not holding the new baby when your toddler first sees you after the birth. Give your toddler a big hug first, then introduce her to the new baby after a few minutes. Buying a present for the new baby to give to his or her older sibling may help!
Stick with routine
Plan how you can stick with at least some of your toddler’s usual routine before the baby arrives. Regular mealtimes, bathtimes and bedtimes will help keep some stability in your toddler’s life when a lot of other changes are occurring.