24th May 2017

The Second Baby Chronicles with Robyn Wilder: 5 surefire ways to prepare your toddler for their new sibling

Robyn Wilder’s having another baby! And she’s writing about her pregnancy for Mush every couple of weeks. Here’s the fifth instalment, in which, according to our friends at Babycentre, her unborn child is roughly the size of a swede. The vegetable, that is, not a hot 6’2″ Scandi dude called Lars. Phew. 

Hello! I am now 25 weeks pregnant. Recently, I’ve been paying special attention to how my two-year-old son interacts with other children – and, readers, the news is not good. Although very cute, he’s not what you’d call gregarious. At toddler group he ignores his peers to trail behind the older boys who, in turn, push him away from their toys. He is very chivalrous; for some reason (possibly fear) he lets girls go ahead of him on the slide. But other than that he pays no attention to kids his own age or younger. So, in the spirit of readying him for the arrival of a much younger, terribly permanent child four months from now, I have taken the following steps. Please do not consider this an instructional guide.

1. Buy a book about it

My lovely friend Meg sent me a wonderfully sweet book called ‘There’s a House Inside my Mummy’, and I have been trying to read it to my son at bedtime. What he prefers to do, though, is snatch the book away from me and then flick through it at lightning speed telling me his own story (apparently it’s a book about tooth-brushing and all the toys lying on the parents’ bed), before tossing the book aside and insisting on watching Teletubbies.

2. Befriend a ‘practise baby’

My brother-in-law and his girlfriend have just had a baby, so my son and I are spending some time with him so that babies don’t come as a total surprise. Of course, my son is not interested in his baby cousin – until I pick him up. When that happens his eyes get big and wobbly and he start pirouetting boastfully around the room until my brother-in-law takes him outside to play football. Which is not sustainable as a long-term parenting technique.

3. Go on about your tummy a lot

Ooh, isn’t Mummy’s tummy getting big? Is it shaped like a big ball? Is it? Who’s in there? Is it a baby? Is it your little baby brother? No, don’t show me your tummy. No, don’t slap your tummy in public. No, you don’t have a baby in your tummy. Oh dear, please stop telling the checkout lady that we put a baby in your tummy. All right, we’re going home.

4. Pick a name quickly to get your toddler used to it

So far this has been the most effective tactic. We have more or less finally named the baby, which at least stops my son referring to it as ‘bruvvasista’. Now he says good morning and good night to it, and occasionally even gives it a hug, which is one step closer to it becoming an actual person in his mind.

5. Get your toddler to choose the new baby’s things

Literally just starting this. Walking around shops getting my son’s opinion on which baby clothes, bouncers, toys and furniture his new sibling might like. I will report back regarding our success!

Mush brings you anecdotal and light-hearted guides on what you can expect when pregnant and in the early years of your child’s life. For more official advice and newsletters detailing your baby’s development, both before and after birth, we recommend signing up to Babycentre.

@orbyn @mushmums

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