First off: Congratulations! They say having a baby changes everything, but it doesn’t have to. Having a baby is an exciting time in any family’s life, and we’re here to help your preschooler adjust to this life change, both before you give birth and after.
STAGE #1: BEFORE BIRTH
You just found out you are having another baby and couldn’t be happier. There is so much to be done! Setting up the baby’s room, buying new items, having a gender reveal party, and attending your baby shower are just a few tasks.
Already, your preschooler is forming questions: “Why don’t I get new clothes?” “Where’s my party?” These and many more questions crowd their brain and leave them feeling uneasy and possibly unloved in this uncertain time.
When you are pregnant, that is the best time to talk to your preschooler. Talk about the changes in your body, in your home, and in their life. Talk about their feelings about the changes. Include them in some decisions. Story time is not only essential for your preschooler, but your baby as well, so read stories every night.
STAGE #2: AFTER BIRTH
After you have the baby, there will be a lot of attention and time given to the baby. Your preschooler might feel excluded, so be sure to include your preschooler in any activities you can. They often like to be Mama’s Helper, so asking your child to help get diapers, burp cloths, and bottles can help your preschooler feel special and needed.
Show your preschooler that they are wanted and loved. Show them how to be an important big sibling to the baby. Help them hold the baby carefully and praise them often.
It seems like you’re always holding your baby, so try to find ways that you can be hands free (and available to help and play with your preschooler) during the day as much as possible. You can use a baby carrier, a sling, or a wrap with the baby so you can be hands free.
Prepare some crafts, games, toys, books, or puzzles in a bag or bin that your preschooler can do on their own. Keep them aside, hidden from the everyday toys. Then, when you need to feed or care for your baby, you can pull out the special toys for your preschooler.
Your preschooler still needs some one-on-one attention. Make a date with them or take advantage of nap time for you to spend quality time together. Also, don’t forget to keep them in events and activities they were in before your new addition arrived.