I’m 34 weeks pregnant this week and I’ve been doing a lot of prepping for our new baby the last few months. But something I haven’t talked about yet is how I’m preparing Chet to become a new big brother! Having a baby is a new change for everyone involved, but especially for new siblings. Chet is still a baby himself in my eyes- he won’t even be two yet when the new baby comes, so there are a lot of things we have been doing to help him feel ready for his new sibling. As a mother, I often worry that Chet won’t feel loved once the new baby comes or he will feel left out. Of course I hope he never feels this way- but I’m honestly not sure how those first few weeks are going to go! I’m sure there will be some jealousy involved and lots of adjusting for everyone. However, my hope in doing these things is that it will make the transition smoother and he will love having a new baby brother.
5 Ways to Prepare a Toddler for a New Baby
- Talk about the new baby often.Although Chet is still a little too young to fully understand that a new baby is coming, we try to talk about ‘little brother’ every day. I think it’s important to communicate the idea of a new sibling, even if your toddler may be too young to fully understand what that means. Every day we talk about ‘little brother’ and about Chet becoming a ‘big brother’. If anything, this type of language will become familiar to him and make the transition to having a new sibling a little easier.
- Teach your toddler about the new baby.This tip goes a little further than just talking about the baby. We have talked to Chet a lot about the baby inside mommy’s tummy and he loves touching my belly and feeling him move around. Also, whenever we go to a prenatal appointment, Chet likes to sit on the table with me when they bring out the doppler. Our midwife uses language like “Is that your baby?” or “Do you hear your brother”? and includes Chet in the whole process. Because toddlers learn using all their senses and not just one, it is important that they can feel and touch baby to learn about them in different ways. Also, it is very beneficial to always talk about the new baby in a positive way that will get them excited! Books about the new baby are also a great way to teach your toddler about the new baby so they can visualize the new addition.
- Ask your toddler to help you.Another thing we have been doing a lot lately is getting the baby’s things ready and including Chet in the preparation stage. I ask him if he would like to help me fold the baby’s clothes, put blankets away, fold cloth diapers, etc. We’ve now taken out all of baby’s necessities (blankets, clothes, burp clothes, wash cloths, etc) and store them on a cart in our bedroom. When we first began putting everything away, Chet wanted to take everything off the cart, but after referring to the cart as ‘babies things’ several times, he now leaves them alone and knows that they are for baby 🙂 I think asking them to help with these preparations for the baby helps to include them and make them feel like an important part of the process.
- Talk about the difference between babies and toddlers.This may seem complex to talk about with a young toddler, but they understand more than we give them credit for. Chet is only 21 months old but we’ve been talking with him about the difference between babies and big boys- and showing him things that make him a big boy. For example, when we see friends with younger babies or even when we see a little baby at the store, I will show him and explain that the baby is little, so we have to be soft and nice with them. He actually caught onto this really quickly and it’s so sweet to see how gentle he is with babies and even younger toddlers. In addition to this, we have also used a lot of language about him being a ‘big boy’. We use every chance we get to refer to a certain task or action as a big boy activity and to offer praise when he completes it. For example, he loves sitting at the table in a regular chair, bringing me diapers, helping me with laundry, sweeping the floor, and picking up his toys. So whenever he takes the initiative to take part in these types of things we tell him what a great ‘big boy’ he is and how he is doing a great job!
- Give your toddler some items that are only theirs.Since we are having another boy, we will be reusing most of Chet’s baby items again for the new baby. Although Chet doesn’t necessarily remember using these items, I think it’s important to show him that his items are his and the baby’s items are the baby’s. There are things that don’t need to be shared and are special for only Chet to use. For example, we will be using all of Chet’s old swaddle blankets for the new baby- except for one. He has one swaddle and one baby blanket that he’s grown to be attached to, so those are his blankets and are not for the baby. Toddlers have a tendency to think that anything new is rightfully theirs, so it helps to remind them of the things that really are theirs and that they have full access to those special items. In addition to this, we have also bought Chet some things that are his very own. These include his own backpack for when mommy & daddy go to the hospital, his own big boy toddler bed, his big boy bow ties, and his own personalized puzzle.Okay now let me tell you about these bow ties and personalized puzzle! Aren’t they darling? We’ve been putting bow ties on Chet every Sunday for church and we talk about how they are part of his ‘big boy’ outfit. At first he hated wearing them, but he has adjusted and now loves them and even just holding them and playing with them! These particular bowties are from one of our favorite small shops, Chico Rose. They make the cutest, high-quality bow ties for boys and they have some really darling bows for girls too! All their bow ties are made of felt and have leather wrapped around the middle- they are a very unique design. They also clip on very easily which is a must for a busy toddler. They just released some new colors for spring, which you can check out here! Use the code: JESSJEAN for 15% off your purchase through February 22nd.
Chet’s personalized puzzle is from Smiling Tree Toys, another one of our favorite small shops. They make lots of darling personalized wood toys for babies and toddlers from tethers to puzzles, to rattles and other baby toys. It has been really fun for Chet to have a puzzle that is unique to him and it has also been great for teaching him about his name that is his very own! I also love that all their toys and hand crafted and toxin-free. They are all made of various types of wood with an organic, non-toxic oil finish. Check out all their cute baby items here!
Do you have any tips for helping a toddler prepare for a new baby? If so I’d love to hear your advice in the comments!