You’re hard at work growing your second bundle of joy…Congratulations! If you’re like me, you have an extremely active, opinionated, and excited toddler running around. Needless to say, you may be feeling a bit more exhausted; yet empowered and amazed at how much you can multitask while growing another little human (way to go, Mama)!
Aside from the obvious toll of being a toddler mom during a second pregnancy, the real pressing issue is how to successfully prepare and transition your “baby” to his or her lifetime promotion of big brother or big sister. Here are a few suggestions that worked for our headstrong 2 ½ year-old boy who (surprisingly) handled his baby sister’s arrival beautifully:
Prior to your bundle’s arrival:
*Talk. Have frequent and daily conversations about the newest addition to the family, placing special value on the new role your toddler will assume- totally a big deal to be celebrated!
*Story Time. Add in a few “new baby”-themed books to morning and bedtime story routines that focus on welcoming a new family member and the role an older sibling.
*Who’s Baby? The new baby is ALL of yours…Mommy’s baby, Daddy’s baby, and your toddler’s baby!
*It’s Time. Let your toddler know of your plans for when the baby arrives (whether planned or spontaneous), what to expect, and when/how he will see you again to meet his new little brother or sister!
*In the Bag. Consider packing two gifts in your hospital bag: one for your baby to gift her new big brother, and one for her big brother to gift his new little sister. When they meet for the first time they can share and open their gifts—a special moment for everyone!
After your two kiddos meet:
*Include Your Toddler. Things will undoubtedly be different at home when you are finally there all together. While your life has now become a balancing act between your two sweeties, try to include your toddler in various ways: I always need Big Brother’s help grabbing the diaper or wipes when it’s baby changing time. My son likes to show me how his trains work around his train table while I nurse his baby sister, or we can snuggle all together during a baby feeding for a short read-aloud.
*Mommy and Me Time. Plan 1 on 1 time with your toddler while the baby is napping, or when Daddy or another friend/family member is playing with the baby. A short walk to the park together, baking cookies, or playing his choice activity are fun ways to ensure he knows he is just as much the center of your world as the baby.
*Visitors Bring Presents. Consider a stash of small “surprises” for your toddler to open when visitors come bearing gifts only for the new baby—he can help to open the baby’s gifts, and have something special to enjoy himself for becoming such an awesome big brother.
When those challenging moments pop up, try to remember you are giving your babies the best gift ever—a sibling and lifelong friend! A new baby is a major change that may rock your toddler’s world. If they don’t quite hit it off right away, hang in there—keep doing things together, not forcing the issue. They’ll come around. Take it all in…laugh, cry, ask for help, snuggle, forgive yourself (don’t forget yourself), and enjoy all the sweetest moments ahead!
Lindsay F. Hayes
New Mom of 2 & Adjunct Professor in Special Education