Ask A Mentor Mom - Helping a preschooler adjust to a new baby

"We'll be adding a new baby to our family soon. How can I help prepare my preschooler before the baby arrives and help him adjust to the change after the baby's actually here?"

Response from Carol Caldwell:
"Get him involved in the planning for the new baby. Let him choose clothes, decorations, etc. for the baby's room. Show him pictures of when he was a new baby and talk about what a baby needs. And shower him with love, now and then."

Response from RoseEllen Roberts:
"Have potty training well established for your little one and have him/her take the sibling class at the hospital. It is free and comes with a great book with tips on how to adjust"

Response from Marcia Hall:
"Make sure your little ones still feels like the "baby" even though you are prepping him to be the big brother. LOTS of snuggling and LOTS of taking about the new arrival. Include him in plans as much as possible and as much as it is appropriate at his age. Visit LOTS of friends with newborns and let him see you holding other babies. LOTS of love!!!"

Response from Stacie Yocum:
"I think it's important to make sure you give your preschooler realistic expectations. Don't expect them to love and adore this new little person like you do. Take time to tell the baby, even if it sounds strange, that they need to wait for help because you need to help the sibling right now. Realize that you can't do it all for both children, just do the best that you can with what you have at the moment! If it can work, it's a nice time to add Daddy or Mommy dates for just the oldest, even if it's taking a five minute walk around the block!"

Response from Marie Nelson:
"All of the suggestions already listed, I would strongly echo. Sage advice! Routine is also important for our children and with the addition of a new little one, the current routine WILL change. Think about what some of those changes might be and begin instituting small, consistent changes now. Face it, change is difficult for all of us. An example might be bedtime routine. Maybe you are currently putting your toddler to bed, but when the baby comes, that may not be possible. Perhaps, now is the time to take turns with Dad. Then after a few weeks, Daddy does it alone. Now might also be the time to work on lengthening independent play activities, which will give you a few minutes peace or the opportunity later to deal with the immediate needs of your newborn. I always had a box of toddler activities waiting that afforded me 5-10 minutes peace in the midst of the busyness. (Example: we had a box of water toys under the kitchen sink that included an apron, plastic measuring utensils, cups, etc. We filled the sink with warm water and put infood coloring (her color choice) and a squirt of dish-washing liquid. She played for long periods of time. Shaving cream on the counter top was another favorite. All of it cleaned up with water!) There might be favorite toys you reserve for this occasion too."

Response from Deanna Gemmer*: 
"We took our oldest child out shopping and let her pick out a present for the baby. Then we wrapped it up and had it ready. When the grandparents brought her to the hospital to meet her sister, they brought cupcakes, balloons and the gift and we had a birthday party. Little sis also gave big sis a special "big sister" present to open too.

A few suggestions we received that worked well: let big sibling help in any ways they can. Bringing me a diaper or throwing away a dirty one, finding the pacifier, picking out a blanket or an outfit, etc. We were also given a special basket to store toys and books that were only available when I was nursing."
*Not an official MOPS Mentor Mom but a Been-There-Done-That-Mommy.

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