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Can a two year old REALLY understand the concept of a new baby?

Posted by on Nov. 16, 2009 at 11:09 PM
  • 10 Replies

I'm approaching 13 weeks...and my first appt will be in another week or so. (Seeing a midwife, and they do firsts at 14 weeks in case you were thinking that was late). Once I see the heartbeat I will be more confident that I'm really having another baby. LOL. My dd is two and we've talked about "our baby" and she'll lift my belly and say "baby sister in there" but I know she doesn't really get it. (PS, I have no idea why she thinks it's a baby sister...or if she even knows what a baby sister is...but if you ask her if it's a boy or girl she says girl and if it's a sister or brother...she says sister every time!. Weird.)

I know she's young, but is there any way to get her better prepared for a new arrival? I know it will be an adjustment no matter what, but if she somehow new something was coming...maybe she'd do better. Any ideas? Obviously, I will wait until I'm farther along to really get into it since six months is an eternity to a toddler!

by on Nov. 16, 2009 at 11:09 PM
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by on Nov. 16, 2009 at 11:57 PM

 Yes, I believe so...even earlier.

by on Nov. 17, 2009 at 12:01 AM

 i think so.. when we were preparing my son, we got him a boy doll, and he carried it everywhere.. it was really a doll for a boy, not a boy doll for a girl... he called him his baby, then his buddy.. we showed him how to be very very gentle with the baby... i let him touch my tummy to feel the baby kick, and even showed him the ultrasound pics over and over..  

by on Nov. 17, 2009 at 12:34 AM

If you have friends with newborns, have your toddler see you holding the baby.  The more he sees that you can still pay attention to him while holding a baby, the easier it will be once there is one full time at your house.  Also, check with the hospital/birthing center to see if they have a sibling class.  We took my stepdaughter to one and she loved it.  They taught a lot of stuff - some stuff for older kids but just being involved seemed to help.

Do you have 2 kids under 2 years old? Join my group to share, learn and vent.

by on Nov. 17, 2009 at 2:49 AM

Definitely, my daughter was around 16-months when I found out I was pregnant again. When I told her "Mommy had a baby inside the tummy" She'd put her head on my tummy and yell out "Hello!" to her baby sibling.

My daughter insisted on the baby being a boy...she'd somehow keep putting blue things on my tummy and babbled "brother" to the baby. And guess what, she now has a BROTHER! It's the weirdest thing but my mom said old saying is, if the older sibling insist the baby is a certain gender, most of the time it's correct.

Ellen barely knew what was going on but we did a list of things to prepare her for the baby:

  1. She was present at every prenatal visit. We let her listen to the heartbeat and see the ultrasounds.
  2. I allowed her to interact with my growing tummy. She would talk to my tummy, sing to her baby "brother", lay her head on my tummy.
  3. I let her feel the movements as baby grew inside. She loved it, if she ever felt the movement she'd giggle and kiss my tummy.
  4. We put up the crib early. We did that so she'd understand the crib is where baby will be sleeping, that way she has more than enough time to adjust to the new furniture.
  5. When we found out the gender, we allowed her to choose out baby's clothing. She enjoyed doing that, she would tell me what she wanted her brother to wear. It made her feel more as part of the big picture.
  6. We made her a "Ellen" area and toy chest. It's for her to play on her own and also a chest to keep her special toys inside....just so she can still feel special and has her very own special toys that she didn't need to share with her baby.

A few things we did ahead of time so she can adjust to the new schedule with baby's feedings and needs:

  1. Do whatever schedule changes and training before baby arrives. Instead of trying to train her as we adjusted to a new baby, I taught her to be more independent while I was still pregnant. That way she wouldn't feel like the baby is the cause of the sudden changes...for example, self-feeding; potty training; sleeping on her own; etc.
  2. Set up areas early. We put things up and out ahead of time so she understands what areas are for playing and what areas is used for her baby brother. For example, the changing area, feeding chairs...she knew it was not to play with.
  3. I read books to her about babies. I found some simple picture books about babies, it talked about how babies cry a lot, only drinks milk and sleeps all the time. It seemed to have taught her how her brother will be when he came home.


by Bronze Member on Nov. 17, 2009 at 2:57 AM

yes i think so when i had my son my sil had a 18 month old boy and he knew i was having a baby he would point at my bump and say baby .or baby Avian  . he got abit jelous after i had my ds he even slaped him while his mommy was holding my ds lol but he knew when i was in l/d that a baby was coming he got cranky and started saying baby baby baby lol

by on Nov. 17, 2009 at 6:04 AM

In my opinion it depend of the kid (every child is different) When my DD was born she was the first grandchild of my parents. When she turn 18 months old my sister gave birth to my nephew (my parents second grandchild) I prepared her to share the love of her granny with the new baby and to love her new cousin. I talk to her about the baby and let her kiss my sister belly. Well when Michael Angelo was born my DD dint got jealous in fact she was really excited.

by on Nov. 17, 2009 at 8:59 AM

a client of mine just had their second baby and they told their 2 yr old son pertty early on in the pregnancy. he understood the concept, but they probably should have waited longer to tell him, bc by the end of the pregnancy, he didnt believe there was really a baby anymore, bc it was taking so long. idk my daughter enjoys playing with my belly, even though i havent told her anything, she seems to know. she likes listening to my belly and giving it kisses. she's 14 months

by on Nov. 17, 2009 at 9:14 AM

ive had all my kids real close together usually a yr to 14 mths apart and it has always seemed the older ones understood. I brought the older kids with me to do the baby shopping and let them help pick out little outfits for the new baby and they all get to pick a special toy for them to give their new brother or sister at the hospital. I also do get them all a big brother/sister gift to get that day also. Doing that stuff always seemed to help prepare them a little more and also to make them feel included in the pregnancy and in the arrival of the new baby

proud mommy of 4 wonderful children and blessed to be adding another one to the group in march 2010group hug

by on Nov. 17, 2009 at 9:43 AM

i would have them play alone a lot so i could tend to the baby when i need to and she wont rely on me to entertain her. Just keep reinforcing you have a baby in your belly

watch baby storys

mine are 2 1 and newborn and it worked for me, pm me if you have any questions

by on Nov. 18, 2009 at 4:43 AM

I agree with one of the PP, it will depend on your child.

My oldest was 16 months when her little sister was born... We did what we could, to get her ready.  We talked openly about it, changed her to a toddler bed and left the crib up explaining it was for her sister.  We got her a baby doll and had her play with it, etc.

Who knows if she understood or not.  She was NOT jealous at all, really caring in fact, or at other times totally ignorant of the situation.  She went on about her little life as if nothing had changed.

my BEST advice?  don't try to prepare the little one, prepare yourself.  here's what I did that worked out well for us.

1. get ready ahead of time.  START now.  not only setting up the crib, etc.  but start getting snacks, juice, milk, etc ready before the day starts.  your "only child" is used to instant gratification and will expect that while the new baby is in the house.  of course there are times when they will have to wait, but it makes your life easier when you can walk into the kitchen, grab a sippy cup of milk, hand it to your older child... all while holding/nursing your younger one.  it was HUGE for us to have things ready, from snacks, drinks, diapers, and even small distraction ideas.

2. get them used to the idea of waiting a bit.  like i said earlier, only children, especially toddlers, want instant gratification.  to avoid issues later on, when baby comes, start now with teaching some patience.  if your toddler requests something, say a drink... have them "wait a minute" while you get it, rather than jumping up to grab what they need.  if they want a toy, let them know that you will get it in just a second.

3. start "alone time" rituals NOW.  we picked two times that worked well for us, that are OUR time alone with our oldest.  i do bath time with JUST her, and daddie reads stories to JUST her before bed.  we started this "alone time" ritual early on in my pregnancy... and she loved it.  when little sister came, she had to share us all day... with the exception of our "alone time".  and NO daddie and sister are NOT allowed into the bathroom during bath time under any circumstances.  it gave her some routine, something to count on, something that was HERS that didn't change one bit.

4. keep them involved, or 100% distracted.  my oldest LOVED to get diapers or grab the nuk off the floor for me.  she would give me the remote and ask for a certain dvd to be on... she LOVED to help, and i let her as much as i could.  when there were times that she could NOT help, like when nursing... i had some tricks waiting for her, if she needed my attention.  i had a small basket of "distraction" items that would only come out when I really needed them.  Some things were song cd, crayola color wonder markers/paper, stickers, etc.  If I was say... nursing her sister, and she showed need for attention, I would pull the basket out (i had it hidden behind my chair) and she could choose ONE thing to play with while she waited for me to be done.  She LOVED having these special items.  Once I was done, we would put them away for next time and it worked wonders.  I could pull out the little basket and she would cover herself in little stickers from head to toe... giving ME 10 minutes of peace and quiet!  We would add things to the basket here and there, so they didn't get old.

So... we didn't worry about preparing our 16 month old, knowing that she really couldn't understand the concept.  We focused on what WE could do to prepare ourselves, and make it an easier transition for her.  I still make juice, milk and water cups along with snacks the night before.  It's great to be able to just open the fridge, grab a cup and a bowl... and wha la... snack is served without crying, fussing, or a long wait while mom figures out how to pour juice, cut an apple, and serve it all while still holding the fussy "little one".

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