Hi there, our son will be about two and a half when the new baby is born. What are some practical things we can do to make him feel involved and not left out before and after the baby is born? I am at six months right now and I tried explaining to him that there is a baby in my tummy but I'm not sure if he understands yet.
Thank you for your question and for being proactive in your desire to prepare your son for the arrival of a new sibling. At age 2, your son is developmentally very much in the here and now. It is perfectly fine to tell him that a new baby is coming and to show him your tummy but do no expect him to understand what it all means.
Here are a few suggestions of things you can do to help set the stage:
1. Show your son some photos of what you looked like when you were pregnant with him.
2. Go through his own baby pictures with him and talk about what he was like when he was a baby.
3. Visit friends or relatives who have babies. Being around other babies will provide the opportunity for your son to see what babies are like and observe how others interact with babies.
4. Talk about things that new babies will need. This can help your son begin to realize the he can do lots of things that babies cannot.
5. If he shows interest, allow your son to help prepare the baby’s room and make simple decisions (i.e. where to put some of the furniture, assist with putting items into dresser drawers, etc.).
6. Ask your son simple questions to help him feel part of the upcoming event (ex: Do you think we should buy these yellow socks or the white ones for the baby? Which of these (2) blankets do you think the baby will like?).
Hopefully, the above suggestions will help make the transition a bit smoother. Nothing can fully prepare a two year old for the arrival of a sibling. Your son will undoubtedly go through some adjustment pains after your new one arrives; that is to be expected. After all, he will have been king of the castle for two and a half years.
After the baby arrives, continue to keep your older child's routine as steady as possible, give him age appropriate tasks and stress to him that he is still an important, vital, member of the family with a new role of older brother!
Wishing your family the best as you prepare for your new addition.
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach
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