|My youngest daughter, Lydia|
We've always been very open with our children when we are expecting a new baby. They know very soon after we know. It's just news that we have a hard time keeping to ourselves and they are always first in line to hear the good news. We talk about the coming of the new sibling, talk about memories of the other children when they were infants, and just begin to lay the ground work of preparing them for an addition to our family.
It can be difficult for the young ones to go from being the baby
to being not-quite-the-baby anymore (let's face it, toddlers are still babies themselves!).
Sometimes they also just can't process what Mommy's growing middle really means. A few days ago, Lydia asked me, "Is there a baby in your belly?"
"Yes, honey. There is a baby in there!"
"Mommy, are there two more babies in here?" (and she pointed to two other, ahem, growing areas on my torso.)
I had to chuckle. The workings of a child's mind are often amusing. :)
They wonder, "Will Mommy still cuddle me?"
"Will she still ...
"Read to me?"
"Play with me?
"Will she still love me?"
Oh, how we have to be very careful in the midst of the sleep deprivation, aches and pains, and nausea to not push our little ones to the side. Because now, before baby's arrival will lay the groundwork for how they will feel after. If throughout the pregnancy, Mommy has become more distant and more preoccupied AND your toddler associates those things with the "baby in Mommy's belly," then there is a good chance that they will feel resentful of that baby when it's taking up even MORE of Mommy's time outside of her belly!
It's always an adjustment for everyone in the family when another member joins, but that adjustment doesn't have to be a painful one. Include your toddler in talk about baby, let them help you fold the baby clothes in preparation, let them feel your belly when baby kicks, and tell them how special it is to be a big brother or sister. Cuddle them, squeeze them, tickle them, and (if it is still physically possible) get down in the floor and play with them (even if you need help getting back up!). Don't let them ever think that they are losing their special place in Mommy's heart just because they aren't the "baby" any longer.
Time is fleeting. They are only little once, and if you are like me, this becomes even more obvious when a new baby comes. The older ones, no matter how young, looks so big compared to an infant. It's enough to make a hormonal Mama need some tissues. Don't miss out on this time to include your toddlers with your pregnancy. Even if they don't fully understand why things are changing, they will notice how. Make it count.
What's your advice to pregnant mothers with toddlers?