If you're an expectant parent with a toddler in tow, you are faced with a unique challenge: How do you prepare your young child for the arrival of his new sibling? Consider these strategies to pave the way for a positive transition for your toddler or preschooler:
Help your toddler feel included in welcoming the baby home by allowing him to help pack the baby's diaper bag or decorate the nursery. She may also enjoy designing her own "I'm the Big Sister" T-shirt. Spending time together during these activities also strengthens your relationship and gives you an opportunity to focus on her new role.
Share the baby's ultrasound photos with your toddler or preschooler, and track the baby's growth using visual aids. Showing your child what's happening inside Mommy's tummy helps him understand the reality that a younger sibling will soon be arriving. At this age, seeing is believing.
Acting out the role of a big brother or sister with Mom and Dad can prepare your child for change. Try prompting with, "This is what big brothers do" or "This is how big sisters help." Then offer your toddler or preschooler the chance to try.
Stories and Scripture
Explain to your child that God created his baby sibling and has allowed the baby to grow in Mommy's body. Share Psalm 139:13-14, "You created the deepest parts of my being. You put me together inside my mother's body. How you made me is amazing and wonderful. I praise you for that. What you have done is wonderful. I know that very well" (NIrV).
Setting aside moments just for you and your first-born sends him the message that he is special to you. Build these important opportunities into your daily schedule. Play together, letting your child choose the activity. Sit on a big comfy couch or chair and cuddle. This meets your older child's need for closeness.
As your family prepares to welcome the new baby, pray together. Invite your toddler or preschooler to join in, encouraging her to verbalize her thankfulness, hopes, questions and concerns.