It’s baby season here at MJM, with lots of our families expanding in the next few months! Births are such an exciting time for families but it can also be a stressor for young children who do not know what to expect when you’re expecting.
We sat down with our very own toddler teacher Miss Eva to ask her advice on the best way to prep your toddler for a new baby.
Chana’le: Hi Miss Eva, thank you so much for sitting down with us and talking all things baby! Thank G-d we have a lot of families who will be expanding in the next few months. Some of our moms are wondering if you can recommend ideas to help children prepare for a brother or sister?
Miss Eva: How exciting, that’s a great question! First of all if a parent is considering sending their toddler to school in anticipation of a new baby it is really important that you enroll your child into school before the baby is born so they do not feel as though they are being cast away when the new baby comes. This will also be a really great time for Mom to have some “Me Time” before the new baby comes. Can you imagine getting a mani and pedi without a toddler in toe?
Chana’le: I never thought of that. Setting the routine is so important for a pregnant Mommy to have some time for herself before the baby comes. What about telling the child? According to a Parent.com article, if a child is under 1 years old they really won’t understand much about a new baby, but a child as young as 2 can grasp the idea. Do you agree with that?
Miss Eva: Yes, absolutely. A 2 year old can really surprise you with what they understand. I would keep it simple and honest, stories about the stork can be very confusing. Tell your toddler that there is a baby in your belly and it is coming out soon, that’s all. There is no need to tell your child until later in your pregnancy since their sense of time is not fully developed yet. Once you tell your toddler, you can casually bring it up in conversation to prepare them for what’s to come. It is also really important to give them a role once the baby comes so they can feel involved.
Chana’le: Can you give us some practical examples?
Miss Eva: Well before the baby comes you can involve them in setting up the nursery, if that is your custom. But if you’d prefer to wait until the baby is born that’s perfectly fine too! You can ask your toddler to bring you diaper/wipes during when you’re changing a diaper. You can also ask them to sing to the baby during bath time if the baby is crying. The most important thing is that the job is meaningful so that they feel that they are truly part of the baby’s life.
Chana’le: It’s so overwhelming to have a toddler and a new baby, what if you you need your toddler to wait and they are getting frustrated?
Miss Eva: Waiting is part of life and we want to teach our toddler patience. The only way we can teach patience is to model patience and to give the child opportunities to practice their patience. When your toddler needs to wait for you because you are tending to the baby, just ask them to wait. Tell them Mommy will be right with them. Try your best not to tell them they need to wait because the baby needs you. This way they don’t feel secondary to their new sibling. You can also tell the baby to wait because your toddler needs you. When your toddler hears you saying that to the baby, they will understand that everyone needs to wait.
Chana’le: Miss Eva thank you so much for all of this insight, we really appreciate it!
Miss Eva: My pleasure! I just want to let all of our Moms know that I am always here for you, if you have any questions or concerns you can always come to me.
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This post was written by Chana'le Gourarie