Expecting another baby? Congratulations! You might have mixed emotions — excitement at the thought of a new baby and worry about how you will manage two.
There are things that you can do to make life easier for the whole family. Here are a few ideas that have worked for other families.
When you find out you're pregnant
Some mothers tell their child soon after they discover they are pregnant. Some like to wait until they start showing or have an ultrasound photo to show. Others will wait until 3 months before baby’s due date to talk about it. Only you can decide which is better for your child and you.
Toddlers generally won’t understand that a baby will mean changes in their life, but there will be lots of opportunities to talk about the baby growing inside you. Buying a doll may allow you and your toddler to do all the baby related activities.
If your toddler is still breastfeeding, you don't need to stop. You may like to tell your doctor or midwife that you are still breastfeeding. If you decide to wean your toddler at this time, it is generally easier to do it slowly. Alternatively you may decide to keep breastfeeding for a time during your pregnancy. You can even tandem feed your toddler and baby if you choose to do so. Many mothers find tandem feeding helps the older sibling bond with the new baby.
Getting ready for the new baby
The arrival of a new baby can mean changes to household spaces and routines which may affect your toddler. You may like to make changes well before your baby arrives. Or alternatively delay them until life settles down with the new baby.
Will your toddler need to move out of their cot or the family bed? Are they ready for a 'big bed'? Do you need to buy a second cot?
If you co-sleep, will you continue to do this after the baby is born?
Will they be starting day care at about the same time your baby is born? Would it be better to do this earlier or delay it until later?
Is your toddler ready to be toilet trained? Straight after the birth of a new baby may not be the best time for this.
You also need to start thinking about the birth.
Do you want your child to be present?
If you are having baby at a hospital, what are their rules around siblings and visits?
Who will you ask to look after your child? Will they care for them in your home or in theirs?
If your child is still breastfed, will you need to have expressed milk or can they do with other food and drinks for the time you are in hospital?
Introducing your toddler to the new baby
While there is no right way to introduce your new baby, there are a few things you might like to think about.
Some people like to have a ritual to help their children welcome their new brother or sister into the world. A gift from the baby to the toddler can make that first meeting special.
It can help for a mum returning from hospital to walk in without the baby so she can give the toddler a big hug. Some mums have reported the first few months are no problem. It is when baby becomes more mobile that jealousy can arrive.
Bring home toddler and baby at the same time from the birthing place so your toddler can welcome baby into their home.
Although some children do bond with the baby immediately, others are not interested or don't expect the baby to live with them.
Read more about growing your family
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