How we’re preparing our toddlers for a new baby: all our best tips and tricks and making a smooth transition to life with a newborn.
I recently wrote about why I’m glad my kids are close in age, but lately I’ve been feeling thankful for how aware and excited they are about this new baby. Whereas we weren’t able to do much to prepare an 18-month-old G for the arrival of his little sister, this time around we’ve been having real conversations.
G is five and B will turn four just days before the baby is born. Obviously, they can’t really comprehend all the ways their lives will change when we become a family of five- can anyone, really?- but we can take steps to make all of us as prepared as possible for the new baby.
How We’re Preparing Our Toddlers for a New Baby
We’re making changes now
It’s important to us that the kids don’t associate all baby-related changes with the baby. For instance, we recently moved B upstairs to make her old downstairs room available for the baby. We did the move more than five months before the baby is due because we don’t want B to feel like the new baby is kicking her out.
We hyped the transition as a move to her “big girl room,” and we discussed how fun it would be for her to sleep upstairs down the hall from her brother. Since the move, she’s stopped to look at her “baby sister’s new room” a few times, so I know she knows what’s happening, but so far she’s been only excited about her new room.
The other big change we’re making is moving G from his car seat in the second row of our car to a booster seat in the third row. This change is slated to happen in the next couple weeks because G, even more so than his sister, needs to be coaxed into change. He needs to be talked through the process before, during, and after it happens. He knows he’s moving and he knows the new baby will be in his old spot, but we’ve talked the whole thing up as a big-boy move because he’ll soon be starting big-boy school.
We call the baby by name
For the first twenty weeks of pregnancy, we were careful not to use any gender-specific pronouns when referring to the baby. We wanted the kids to realize we didn’t know the gender. We had a gender-reveal ultrasound at 18 weeks and found out we’re having a girl. Ever since, we’ve referred to the baby as “she” and as their “baby sister”. Now that we’ve settled on a name, we use it all the time so G and B can think of her as a person, as much as their toddler minds can.
They’re watching Daniel Tiger
If you’re a parent of a toddler and you’re not familiar with Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, you’re missing out. It’s an animated show that we watch via Netflix and it’s a loose spin-off of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. In every episode, Daniel faces typical toddler challenges: visiting the doctor, sharing with friends, trying new foods. For each scenario, there’s a catchy little jingle attached that Daniel and the other characters use to overcome the issue.
Daniel’s mom has a baby in the first episode of season two; many of the subsequent episodes confront typical big sibling drama: why does the baby cry all the time? why does she need mom and dad’s attention so much? why does the new baby get into my toys? G and B have been watching those episodes since before we got pregnant, but now we’re intentional about playing them.
If you don’t have Netflix, you can buy just the episodes about Daniel being a big brother on DVD.