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How to Prepare a Toddler for a New Sibling

Your youngster probably thinks that lump growing under Mommy’s shirt is going to be a ready-made playmate. Little does he know! Here’s how to prepare him for the reality of a new baby in the house.


  • Step 1: Delay the news Don’t spill the beans until you’re showing. A very young child won’t get it anyway until he’s got some proof. Plus, the longer you wait, the less time he’ll have to anticipate -- and fret over -- the big event.
  • Step 2: Don’t push him Once he knows, don’t push him to grow up. If he’s in diapers, forget potty-training for now. If he’s still in a crib, don’t switch him to a big-kid bed. He’ll feel like he’s being replaced, not promoted.
  • Step 3: Give him proof Do all you can to make the baby a reality for your child. Have him talk or sing to your belly. Let him feel the baby moving around in there.
  • TIP: If your doctor or midwife allows it, and you’re comfortable with it, bring your child along to your prenatal checkups. Ask the doctor to let your child listen to the baby’s heartbeat.
  • Step 4: Involve him Let your child help prepare for the baby. Ask him what he thinks the baby’s name should be. Let him pick out something special for the nursery.
  • Step 5: Get some books Get some children’s books about a mommy who is having another baby and read them to your child.
  • Step 6: Show baby pictures Show your child pictures of himself as a baby. Tell him what he was like as a newborn. Explain that just like him, the new baby will be a big kid someday.
  • Step 7: Buy a baby doll Give your child a baby doll, one that’s about the size of a newborn and as lifelike as possible. Show him how to take care of it so he’ll understand what you’re up to when the real thing comes along.
  • TIP: If you have a friend with a newborn, ask if you can bring your child for a visit, so he can see a real infant in action.
  • Step 8: Stock up on gifts Stock up on big-sib gifts. Most people will include a toy for your older child when they bring or send a baby gift. When they don’t, you’ll be able to stave off jealousy with something from your secret stash.
  • Step 9: Make him a helper When you bring the baby home, give your older child special jobs. Put him in charge of making sure visitors are gentle with the baby--this will insure his own good behavior, too.
  • Step 10: Multitask Perfect the art of multitasking. Read to your child while you nurse the baby. Play make-believe with him while you change a diaper. The less left out he feels, the faster you’ll all be one big, happy family.
  • FACT: In one national parenting survey, 30 percent of the people polled said that if they knew then what they know now, they would not have had children.

You Will Need

  • Age-appropriate books about new babies
  • Pictures of your toddler as a baby
  • A realistic baby doll
  • Empathy
  • A friend with a newborn sheu2019s willing to show off (optional) (optional) (optional)

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