Preparation is key
The key to a smooth transition for your toddler is preparation. If both you and your partner are organised and in control, your child will feel a lot happier, calmer and more secure.
When your new baby arrives, life will be turned upside down (again!), so plan ahead while you’re still pregnant. Ask yourself, what needs to be done, then make a list.
Think about the practicalities of how life will change when you’ve got two or more kids to think about. Is your toddler or pre-schooler still coming into your bed at night? If so, now’s the time to get her used to her own ‘big girl’s’ bed, and out of yours.
Can she spoon-feed herself? Again, this is something that should be actively encouraged now so that when you’ve got your hands full with a new baby, it’s one less thing for you to worry about and one less thing for her to feel has changed.
Having a tight routine in place before the birth will help things run smoothly when the new baby arrives. This is especially true if you’re a single mum. Everyone needs a support system to help them cope, so whether it’s your partner, mum or friends, get them involved and rely on them to help you.
Only you know when to tell your toddler that you’re expecting another baby. But once you do, there are ways to help prepare them emotionally. Toddlers and pre-schoolers need to feel involved and part of the new baby’s arrival, so get them excited about it. Take her shopping and let her choose a few things for the nursery, or let her hold the paintbrush with you while you paint the new bedroom. All the while, talk to her about the baby, and get her used to the idea. When you’re out shopping, point to other babies and say, ‘Look! We’ll have one of those soon, won’t we?’
Meet the bump
When your bump gets really big, talk to your child about the baby inside and let her rub cream into your tummy and feel the baby kick. Young toddlers won’t make the connection between your huge bump and a real baby, but it’ll still create excitement and positive feelings.
Children who are 3 or 4 will have a better grasp of what’s going on, so chat to her about it but don’t overload her with information. Small children need straightforward information that’s easy for them to digest. She’ll probably have loads of questions as you get nearer to the end of your pregnancy, so do answer them, but keep it simple.