How can my partner and I prepare our toddler for a new baby? Behavior & Discipline

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Toddler boy kissing new baby sibling
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Even if your toddler's excited to have a little brother or sister, he may be taken aback by the changes. Get expert advice and find out how other moms made the transition go smoothly.

Maintain the Pre-Sibling Schedule

"It's important to keep the toddler's schedule the same as it used to be before the baby. That means they still need to have nap time, snack time, regular bedtime, a bedtime routine, and playtime. Your toddler will occasionally enjoy being useful as a 'big brother helper' and finding diapers and other supplies you need to take care of the baby. However, as his attention span is rather short, he may quickly lose interest in these helping activities." -- Elena Mikalsen, PhD, Mikalsen Psychological Services, San Antonio, TX

Give Him a Doll

"We got my older son a doll a few months before the baby was born, so we could teach him how to be gentle. After the baby was born, we encouraged him to feed his doll while I was feeding the baby."

Reassure Her She's Still Special

"Explain that you have a little baby in your belly and that she is going to be a big sister. Yes, she will be jealous, but reassure her that she is just as special as the new baby."

Break Out the Baby Gear Early

"Taking the stuff out early and letting my son have free rein on it took away some of the mystery."

Ask How Your Toddler's Feeling

"I encouraged my toddler to talk to me about how he was feeling and what he liked and disliked about his new brother. If it was something reasonable, we would try to come up with a solution."

Let Him Help You

"The key is to make sure he feels involved by letting him know you need his help. This can make having a little sister fun instead of frustrating. Also, make sure you give him special time alone with you."

Involve Him in the Process

"I read my toddler books about new babies and about being the big brother, and I took him to ultrasounds and doctor appointments. He did just fine when his baby sister arrived."

Don't Rush Him

"My oldest didn't even want to look at his sister at the hospital, but once we were home for a few days, he was okay. It's a change and I'm letting him accept her in his own time."

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.