1. Talk about the new baby daily until and after she arrives. Explain that the new baby is being brought into the family because you have more love to share. Try this, “Daddy and I had you because we had lots of love to give. We are having/had your sister because we found even more love to give. Do you think you’ll have love in your heart to give to your new baby sister? How do we show babies we love them? How do and daddy show you that we love you?
2. Use a visual to reinforce the love you’ll share as a family. Take a lunch box/backpack/purse and find a toy to symbolize each member of the family. Explain that the lunch box is your family. Say, “Now find a place for mommy, daddy, and you.” Ask, “Is there room for baby?” (Note: Make sure that as you place members into the bag that there is an obvious, empty place for baby.)End with, “See there is plenty of room for your baby sister/brother, isn’t there? Is there still room in there for you too? Of course there is!”
3. Help them conceptualize the baby in your tummy, by using your expanding belly as a canvas. Take out some washable markers and let them draw what they think the baby looks like. Ask: Do you think baby is sucking her thumb? Is she curled in a ball or laying flat? Is she opening her mouth? Does she have her eyes closed? Do you think she feels us drawing “on” her?
4. Include your toddler in your preparations. Let him help you pack your bag for the hospital, clean the bottles, paint the nursery and put diapers away. Take a tour of the hospital or birthing center with your toddler in tow. Be sure to sneak a peek at the new arrivals too.
5. Have a sibling gift exchange. Take a special trip to the store and have your toddler pick out a gift just for the new baby. Likewise, pick out a special gift from the baby for his big brother or sister. When baby and toddler meet have them give their gifts to each other.
6. Have your toddler mimic what you do with the new baby, on their own baby doll. Whenever you’re feeding your baby, have them snuggle in next to you and feed theirs. If baby sister needs to be changed, ask big sister to check and see if their baby is wet or stinky.
7. As soon as mom is up for it, plan activities that the whole family, new baby included, can do together. This will create memories, reinforce the bonds shared as a family, and provide your toddler with new pictures of what your family looks like.
8. Introduce your toddler to one or two new “big kid” activities. You may try letting them use play dough or glitter for the first time, or take them to a new big kid place, like Chuck E Cheese or a children’s museum. Just make sure it’s a place they’ve never been before, and that it includes activities that a baby couldn’t enjoy yet.
+1 for Moms: Be in tune to your toddler’s need for one on one time with you, once baby arrives. Newborns require a lot of your attention in the first few weeks of life. If both baby and toddler are fussy, and baby has been fed, burped and changed, then give yourself permission to put your baby down and tend to your toddler. Also, try scheduling just 30 minutes each day exclusively for mommy and toddler time. This will prove to them that there really is enough love for both them and baby.
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