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In the Classroom: Moonbeams

Babies, Babies Everywhere!

by Kristen Carter

We are delighted that a number of our Moonbeams are going to be big brothers and sisters soon! News of a pending new arrival is exciting, scary and emotional for a toddler. When telling the news to your two or three year old that he or she is going to have a new baby brother or sister, it is so important to keep the message light and positive. As toddlers are very concrete thinkers,  nine months is way too far away for a young child to comprehend the idea of the arrival of a new baby.  A good rule of thumb is to talk to a young child about a new baby when mom is beginning to show the “belly bump” to the child ( a very concrete physical sign of what will be happening.)

When introducing the topic of the new baby, you may want to explain to your child that the new baby won’t be able to play with him or her at first, but that they can gently hug or kiss the new sibling. Explain that new babies spend most of their time sleeping, crying, and eating. Show your child pictures of what he or she looked like as a newborn and share special memories.  Try to visit a friend or relative who has a new baby. This is especially helpful if your child is currently an only child. It is important for your toddler to get the message that that mommies and daddies can hold a new baby, but also still love and take care of him or her. Read books about being a big brother or sister. A Baby Sister for Frances by Russell Hoban or The New Baby by Mercer Mayer are two examples of books that are appropriate for a toddler or young preschooler.

When preparing a child for a new brother or sister, keep in mind that any transitions, such as switching from a crib to a bed, toileting, or weaning from a bottle or pacifier, may be best done well in advance of the new baby. Some children who have recently been weaned or potty trained may regress once the baby is born. Such regression is completely normal, since an older child  is giving up his or her position as the baby in the family. Giving lots of reassurance to your older child will help with this new and very exciting transition.