Nothing beats the feeling of meeting the newest member of your family. But bringing home baby isn’t always the joyous, problem-free beginning you’ll imagine it to be. Especially when you have a toddler in tow.
"While this can be a confusing time for your older child, it’s important to normalise the situation as much as possible,” says Mothercraft nurse, Chris Minogue.
"Your toddler can be thrown by the change in family dynamic and this will be reflected in their behaviour – both good and bad. A bit of planning and understanding and you can help ease everyone through this transition.”
Here are Chris’s top 7 tips to get you started:
1. Be prepared
In the weeks leading up to baby’s arrival, be sure to spend time explaining what a new baby will mean to your toddler and the family dynamic.
2. No big changes
Don’t make any big changes six weeks before or after baby arrives, advises Chris. Delay moving your toddler a Big Bed, dropping a day sleep or even toilet training while everyone is adjusting to the newest member of the family.
3. Don’t blame the baby
Your new baby will disrupt your toddler’s routines and the existing family dynamic, but don’t blame these changes on the baby. "Accept this as a stage in your child’s development,” says Chris.
4. Take a drive past the hospital
A week before the baby’s due date, put your toddler in the car and drive past the hospital. “Explain what will happen the day the baby arrives; that daddy will be at home with the toddler and will give them a dinner and bath; and the next morning you’ll visit Mummy and the new baby in hospital,” says Chris.
5. Keep hospital visits short
Once baby arrives, keep your toddler’s visits to under 20 minutes. “Use your time with the toddler to ask them how they are. If baby is asleep ask your toddler if they’d like to say hello - but don’t force them if they say no," says Chris. “If baby is awake and feeding, don’t put the baby down or stop what you’re doing. It’s important that your toddler begins to understand.”
6. Coming home
Babies take a lot of mum’s time so it’s important to make the most of those small windows of time throughout the day to spend time with your toddler. Like talking to them as you’re hanging out the washing, or playing Lego on the floor while the baby is feeding or sleeping.
7. Make a DIY ‘photo’ calendar
For the period of time you expect to be away from home for the birth of your baby, create a visual calendar of events using photographs so your toddler can understand what each day will bring. For example, Tuesday is visit-mummy-in-hospital day, Thursday is go-grocery-shopping-with-grandma day, and Saturday is going-to-the-park-with-dad day.
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