Many factors can influence how your child responds to a new sibling, from his inborn temperament to his mood at the moment. But your child's age also plays a role, both in how to prepare him for baby and what to expect. Here are some tips for an easy transition.
Children this age are practically still babies themselves and can't comprehend the idea of another infant in the house, says Lynn Sullivan, with BirthPlace, part of Santa Monica/UCLA Medical Center. Children this age can't imagine what a newborn will look like. They often think that the baby is going to pop out and be an instant playmate.
Sullivan advises parents to delay sharing the big news until Mom's showing, and then to keep it simple. Tell your toddler, "A baby is growing inside Mommy and will be coming to live with us soon."
To make the unknown more familiar, you might want to consider these ideas:
A child's world at this age doesn't revolve completely around parents anymore, lessening her chances of being troubled by the new family member. Because she's also more capable of understanding what a baby is, you can share the big news with her immediately.
Here are some guidelines for preparing your child:
Helping your child feel involved in the process can also make things easier. Here are a few things to try:
And for extra peace of mind, Sullivan recommends making child-care arrangements well in advance so your little one knows who will be sitting for her while you're away.