Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Preparing your Toddler for a Sibling: What We Did

Emelia was in the forefront of our minds when we found out we were expecting.  We spent a lot of time thinking about how we could prepare her for the change, my main concern was that she would feel pushed out, especially if I had to stay in hospital for a few days.  Brett and I wanted to make sure my pregnancy was a positive and exciting time, and while the first 5 months were spent relatively stress free (with the exception of moving abroad) and focused on building Emelia up to being big sister, the last couple leading up to Oscar's arrival have been testing, to say the least.
My health hasn't been great, resulting in many many hospital visits and stays, so I haven't really been around much for Emelia and when I have I've been limited in what I've been able to do.  Despite all of the worry and stress we were feeling we really wanted to try and keep everything upbeat and positive in front of her.  I've thought in length about the things we did the most or found to work the best for us as a family when preparing her for her new baby brother.  Pregnancy is a joyful and exciting time but it can be profoundly unpredictable and stressful, here are 5 things that I found to work well for us in preparing Emelia.

Talk about the Baby 

We began talking to Emelia about the new baby as soon as we told family and friends.  We have always loved books so I began looking into which books we could get to use as tools to help explain that she would have a baby brother or sister.  There are many brilliant children's books available, but I found the Princess Polly - I'm a New Big Sister book to be the one that stuck out for Emelia, she would actually ask for it as her bedtime story most nights at one point.  We changed the names in the book to our names to make it even more relevant to us.  The book touches on Mummy and Daddy going to the hospital and Grandma coming to stay, I realise this may not be the scenario for everyone but it really seemed to help her understand the what would be happening when it was time to have the baby.  Having looked online there is a version for boys too, Pirate Pete - I'm a New Big Brother.

Be Patient 

Something I don't always do well, but it's something I'm working on.  I think most children will have some sort of regression in their behaviour when a new sibling arrives, whether it's related to their sleep, potty training or just acting up a little, it's important to remember it's an extremely normal reaction to changes (I am reiterating this to myself as I type it).  My biggest piece of advice would be to try and step back and look at the situation as a whole, and think about what has caused this tantrum or outburst, sometimes it's not really a tantrum or them being naughty it's just the only way they're able to communicate how they're feeling.  I've certainly learnt (and continue to learn) how and when to react to certain situations.  A lot of the time they just need a hug and some reassurance that you're still there and everything is ok.  Don't get me wrong, we still have to use the naughty step from time to time! 

Expect Heavy Hands

This is something I found extremely difficult to relax about, especially when we first came out of the hospital.  I know I am probably extra paranoid because of how tiny Oscar is and because of everything we have been through, but I am trying really hard to relax more now he's getting bigger.  Emelia loves to hold Oscar and wants to be in his face constantly, we just remind her of how tiny he is and how it's important to be especially gentle with him.  I have heard people say that some toddlers hit or pinch new babies, I don't think this is always naughty or nasty behaviour possibly just them feeling unsure and insecure.  However, I would strongly recommend always supervising your toddler with the new baby and give them extra praise and encouragement when they're being kind and gentle.  We make sure to tell Emelia how proud we are of her and how much Oscar loves having her a his big sister - it seems to work well for her! 

Bump Interaction 

Emelia liked to hug and kiss my bump, but as time went on and she came to more appointments with me she began doing her very own 'check ups' on my bump with her doctors kit.  I never forced her to talk or interact with my bump, but when she showed willingness we encouraged it and talked to her about her new baby.  It wasn't long before she started telling people about the baby in Mummy's tummy and talking to us about what she was going to do/what toys she was going to share with him. 


I wanted to have a present for Emelia at the hospital from the baby, we decided to get her a Baby Born doll so she had her very own new baby too.  I thought it might be useful and enable her to copy what I was doing with the baby when she perhaps wasn't able to help out as much as she would like to.  It has definitely worked and acted as a bit of a distraction, whilst keeping her included and help her to feel she still has a special role.  Brett also took Emelia shopping for her to choose a present for Oscar. 

I am by no means an expert, these are simply things that have helped Emelia adapt to having a baby brother. 
What did you do to prepare your toddler?  Please leave any comments or advice that might help others. 



  1. Ah great tips! We gave my eldest two gifts 'from Benjamin' when he was born too. I think it's nice to ensure siblings are involved from the get go so we told them I was pregnant early on. Luckily they were fairly patient (more than me anyway)! x

  2. Love these tips! It's a way off for us but I love the idea of a little 'big sibling dr's check-up!' to promote bonding!

  3. Some really great advice there. We did most of it but our little man was 6 so it was a good bit easier. He was excited to have a new sister on the way. Never knew about the books though. They sound great. Not that I'm expecting any more yo arrive

  4. Some great advice here - we did very similar when our second arrived x

  5. All such great and soundnadvice. Emelia has really adapted well, due to your forward thinking and planning x

  6. Brilliant tips - it's such a big moment, it's so important to do it right.