Q: I'm going to have my second baby in a few months. Is there anything special I can do to prepare my 12-month-old daughter?
A: Often, a 1-year-old comprehends more than she can verbally express, so it's hard to tell if she truly understands what is said, says Nancy L. Close, Ph.D., assistant clinical professor at the Yale Child Study Center in New Haven, CT. But there are some steps you can take to make the change a little easier on everyone.
A couple of months before the birth, try telling her often that you're having a baby, to reduce some of the shock when the little one she's heard about arrives. Let your daughter know that you still love her even though there's another baby to love on the way. Take her to the toy store and pick out a special doll with a bottle, diaper, blanket, and stroller (the same goes for boys). "Playing with it will help her feel more involved when the baby is there."
No matter how much you prepare, some regression on your daughter's part is totally normal and should be expected. She'll probably want to be held more or may want her bottle if you've been weaning her. And it's okay to indulge her, says Dr. Close. Make an effort to save some time for just the two of you. Enlisting a family member or babysitter to watch your newborn while you take your older child to the park or grocery store can be helpful.
Copyright © 2001. Reprinted with permission from the May 2001 issue of Child magazine.