It is such an exciting moment when you discover that you are pregnant again. It will be different this time, as you already have a mobile and entertaining toddler but be aware of the changes that a new baby will make in your family, particularly to that little one that has been the ‘ruler of the roost’ for all of their lives.
Involve your toddler and explain what is happening
Toddlers are bright. They will very soon realize that something is different with mom, not least she may be sick in the morning and, as the pregnancy develops, increasingly tired and distracted. Of course, in the early stages, there is no real evidence as to why mom is different, and if you try to explain too early why things are changing, it will not be easy for your toddler to understand. Your girlfriends, colleagues, books and parent guides will all offer differing advice but you know your child best and how and when to share the news.
Sharing the news
As soon as you have successfully gone through your first trimester, you will excitedly show your ultrasound scan photo to your close family and friends, but it will be very hard for a toddler to understand what the image means. By now though, the bump will be developing, and this will be the time to start having the conversations about the impending arrival. It is fine to share the excitement that parents have that another baby is on the way, but it is so important that your toddler gets excited too.
A new brother or sister
To a toddler, a new brother or sister initially may seem a great idea, someone to play with, maybe even share their room and another ‘little person’ to have fun with every day. Their friends will have brothers and sisters so that they will have seen this happening already. During the pregnancy is a good time to increasingly encourage your toddler to share and teach them a really important lesson - how to wait. There will be times, particularly in the early days of the new arrival, that mom will not be able to react immediately to their requests, as they are busy with the baby, so best to prepare them in advance.
Don’t forget to spend bonding time with your toddler, just the two of you, before the baby arrives. You could take the time to go to the park, get out the paint or even teach them how to make paper airplanes from origami way and play for hours with their creations.
Involve them in the experience
As your baby grows, and the closer you get to your due date, it is natural that you will want more time to rest and relax. After all, last time you were pregnant you didn’t have an exhausting toddler running around. Use these resting times to talk to your toddler about what is going to happen when the baby arrives. Buy storybooks about families going through the same experience and take time with your toddler to read the books, share the pictures and relate what is happening to what is going to happen in your home.
When the baby arrives
On the glorious day when you bring your new baby home, involve the toddler by asking them to show the baby where it will sleep, introducing them to any pets they may have and showing them where they keep their toys, which they can play with together when the baby is bigger. There will be times when it is not appropriate or practical for the toddler to be involved but let them help where they can and encourage them to ‘fetch and carry’ blankets or diapers that the baby may need.
There is a tendency to want to spoil your toddler, almost as compensation for them having to share their parents and their home with a new arrival. By all means, little treats are great and maybe even a day trip with Dad or Grandparents, as a distraction away from the intensity of the changes at home. However, the key to acceptance and a calm and happy family will be love, sharing and time spent happily together.