Preparing your Toddler for a New Baby

As we approach the first birthday of our sweet baby girl, I’ve been thinking back on my pregnancy. Our first was a complete and total, unplanned surprise so it was a totally different experience to have planned a pregnancy. One of the first challenges (because all pregnancies are challenging in some way or another) we identified was introducing our then 2 year old to the concept of a sibling. 

Our introduction to the baby in mommy’s tummy started right off the bat. While my husband and I don’t immediately advertise pregnancy, we definitely don’t hold back on it either. We told our toddler moments after the positive test that there was a baby in mommy’s tummy. He, like most toddlers, didn’t care and I don’t recall trying to push the concept on him. 

A few weeks later, I had my first ultrasound. Typically, we scan ultrasounds and email them out to family members. We realized at this point that we didn’t really have a nickname for the baby and didn’t know what to name the scanned images. We decided to let our toddler come up with the nickname. When we asked him what we should call the baby in mommy’s tummy, he said “cookie”. We weren’t (and still aren’t) sure if he actually wanted to call the baby “Cookie” or if he was asking for a cookie. Either way, we went with it and officially referred to the baby as “Baby Cookie” for the majority of my pregnancy. 

I think referring to the baby as Baby Cookie helped to spike our toddler’s interest in the whole thing. After all, how many toddlers don’t perk up when they hear the word “cookie”? He was always very interested in the things going on with the baby. That being said, I don’t think he really had any concept of what it meant when we said Baby Cookie would be here soon. I used to say that he was going to be very upset when we came home from the hospital with another person instead of a cookie.

We were totally wrong though. As my pregnancy progressed, he started asking when Baby Cookie would be here. He developed this idea that Baby Cookie lived at the doctor’s office and asked before each visit if she’d be coming home with me that day. Eventually, the day arrived and I went into labor. We left our son with one of his aunts and told him we had to go to the hospital for a couple of days to get Baby Cookie because it was finally time for her to come home. He was so excited and couldn’t wait.

We decided not to have our toddler visit us at the hospital. He struggles with separation anxiety and we didn’t want to make our days apart any harder on him, us, or my family (since they were watching him). When we got home from the hospital, my family brought our son back to our house. We showed him his new baby sister and gave him the gifts that “she” had brought for him: a new car and of course, a cookie. He was over the moon and honestly, he still is. 

Almost a year later, our son is still obsessed with his baby sister. He has defined the phases of his life as “baby”, “little kid” and “big brother.” I can’t say with any certainty that involving him in the pregnancy from the beginning is why he’s so obsessed with his sister. It could just be normal behavior. But I am very glad he was involved and is still so caring and understanding of his sister. I hope he guides his sister through this process in a couple years when we decide to add another munchkin to our bunch.

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