Pregnancy while having a toddler can be a very tiring time for you. The demands upon you (work, your partner, your toddler, running household, ante-natal visits and preparing for the new baby) may leave you with little time for yourself. Now it is very important to try and focus more on yourself (to get enough rest) and your toddler. Spent as much time with your toddler while it is only you and him/her. It’s going to be a lot different once the new baby is there.
When to tell your toddler
Not too soon. A very young toddler may have little understanding that a baby is in mummy’s tummy and their concept of time is minimal and months may be too long for them to tolerate. On the other hand, toddlers are amazingly astute – so your ballooning body will catch their eye at some point, and that will prove a good moment to spill the beans. Have pictures ready to help with the understanding.
For many toddlers, the baby will not be real to them until the baby is born.
Let her touch your tummy (especially when the baby is moving and kicking). She might also enjoy coming along to an ante-natal appointment and listening to your baby’s heartbeat.
How to cope and prepare toddler around birth
It can be very difficult to have a toddler around when you go into labour. Your toddler is not going to understand that you’re in labour and is expecting a lot of pain. To see you in pain, maybe too traumatic to handle for your toddler. It might be best for her to stay with other family members or friends.
Prepare your toddler for the birth day and that she will have to stay with someone while mommy & daddy are at the hospital.
The first meeting is often seen as a crucial litmus test of the sibling relationship but I don’t think so. I think, try to keep the focus on the toddler rather than the baby. The best advice is to try and make sure the baby is in a cot or bassinette when your toddler makes her entrance, so your arms are open to cuddling her and you can explore the newborn together.
Feelings towards the new baby
It is very common for your toddler to have jealous feelings towards the new baby. He was the centre of attention since birth and now all of a sudden this new baby is taking all of the attention. He may also feel overwhelmed by the sudden whirl of friends, photo’s, gifts and flowers.
The feelings of an older child can easily be overlooked.
Younger toddlers, who can’t verbalise their feelings, might regress to earlier behaviours –like thumb sucking, wanting to drink from a bottle, forgetting their recent potty training skills and using baby talk to get your attention.
Older toddlers and kids might express their feelings by testing your patience, misbehaving, throwing tantrums or refusing to eat. These problems are usually short-lived and a little preparation can help.
Here are some tips:
- Have a regular one on one time with your toddler (no baby present) -Watch him ride his tricycle, blowing bubbles with him, have a simple conversation with him.
- Look at photos where he was a baby. Point out the different stages (rolling, crawling, and walking). Let him know that the baby will grow up and one day he will be big enough to play with him.
- Give him a special gift from the new baby. It may help him feel a bit more positive about the new little stranger in the house.
- Get your toddler involved when people come and visit the baby. Let him show them the new nursery.
- Let your toddler help pick out items for the new baby’s room.
- Reinforce your older child’s role in the family, saying that he or she will be the “big brother/sister” to the new baby.
Looking after yourself
Your new baby and toddler both need a mummy. Don’t let yourself get overtired by trying to do too much. People don’t expect a tidy in control house. Most visitors will also be happy to make tea & coffee and to help with simple chores. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
If you’re lucky enough to get your toddler and new baby asleep at the same time, you need to rest too. Even 15 min of rest can do wonders.
Relax, rest and enjoy this special time.