Introducing your toddler to a new baby
A new baby is a wonderful thing - but tots might not be happy about sharing your time once the baby arrives
I’ve just discovered I’m pregnant for the second time. We’ve been trying for a couple of years so are very excited and really want to tell our four-year-old. How long should we wait, and do you have any advice on what we should say?
At four years old your daughter will have lots of language skills and understanding, so I don’t think there’s any reason to wait before telling her the news. It’s different with a very small child who has no concept of time, but she will understand a little about months and events – so you can help her relate to it by explaining that the baby will be born ‘after your next birthday’ or ‘before Christmas’. You can explain that the baby grows inside your tummy and let her feel the baby kicking. She is likely to be quite excited at this age.
You can also prepare her by reading stories about having another baby in the family, and being a big sister, and let her play ‘babies’ with a doll and pram if she doesn’t already do this. She will probably want to help you a lot with the baby, fetching nappies, splashing in the bath and so on, and it’s good to encourage this.
However, it doesn’t mean you won’t see any signs of jealousy at all. Having had your undivided attention for four years, she might well be a little bit put out, so do be prepared for that too.
You’ll also find good advice on nhs.uk and, of course, in the Parenting Skills section.
Eileen Hayes is a family counsellor, parenting and child behaviour expert, and chair of the Brazelton Institute UK, experts in baby communication. Got a question for the panel? Email [email protected].