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Pregnancy | Planning & Preparing

Preparing siblings for the arrival of the new baby

Younger kids will without doubt be jealous when a new baby arrives while older kids will be filled with immense pride and would want to show off their new brother/sister at every opportunity. But with clever planning, some initiative and a bit of juggling, you can ensure that your toddler feels that she is still special.

  • Being clingy: It’s normal for a child to get quite clingy and irritable in the last month of your pregnancy. Explain the situation and what’s about to happen, even if you have to do it a couple of times. Perhaps use a book to illustrate, but don’t overdo it. Rather use this time to spend some quality time with your toddler and focus on her.
  • New playmate: Don’t make promises of a new playmate, as toddlers are often disappointed in the fact that all this new, selfish family member does is sleep and cry.
  • Stick to the routine: Try to keep the siblings’ lives as unchanged as possible by fitting your baby’s routine in with theirs as far as possible. Make a list of all the activities you share with your toddler – bath time, trips to the park, cuddle time, routine etc. and keep these going. It’s important that she doesn’t feel as if her whole life came to a stand still and that she doesn’t matter.
  • Test run: Arrange a trip to the hospital to show your her where you’ll be having the baby and remind her of the arrangements a week before the time – such as “you will be staying with daddy and granny”. When the big moment arrives, don’t slip away to avoid conflict, tell her what’s going on. Tip: Give her a wrapped gift box with loads of interesting goodies to make the going away a bit easier.
  • New baby and sibling gifts: When your toddler is visiting you in the hospital keep in mind that she is visiting you and not the baby, so make some special time but keep the visit short and sweet. Arrange for the exchange of small gifts from baby to toddler and the other way around, beforehand.
  • One on one time: See to it that your toddler is on an outing when you and baby get home. Get baby and yourself settled in so that you can be there for her when she arrives.
  • Her time to shine: Let your toddler show the visitors her new baby brother or sister.
  • Feeding time tricks: Plan a drink or a snack in advance for her to enjoy while you are feeding your baby so she doesn’t feel left out. Another idea is to keep some special activities like a puzzle, play-dough or a DVD exclusive to feeding times.
  • Discipline: Stick to the old rules and discipline your toddler like you would always do – don’t feel guilty.
  • Baby mode: Your toddler might want to go back into old habits like nappies, bottles or dummies. Explain that she has already done all of these and create distractions. Be patient.
  • She’s special: Work at it to make her feel that the baby likes her.
  • Don’t pair off: When asking dad to help out by taking your toddler for an outing, be careful not to make pairs such as mom and baby, dad and toddler. Your toddler will start to resent this. Swap often and keep the balance.

It’s just a matter of time before they will be best friends!

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