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How can I involve my two-year-old in my pregnancy?

I have a 2-year-old son and just learned I am pregnant. Are there things I can do to help him with his new role as "big brother?"

Rosann Nichols | Pediatrician

Rosann Nichols

The arrival of a new baby in the family is an exciting event for everyone, but along with that excitement, nervousness or anxiety can also come along—for both parents and siblings! 

Talking about the baby's arrival briefly and intermittently throughout the pregnancy can help toddlers become more aware of the upcoming changes, but toddlers are also very concrete thinkers so the reality of the new baby often doesn’t hit home until the baby is born. As you are preparing the nursery, have your toddler help put away baby clothes, stock the diaper drawer and “help” decorate. These are all ways to help your child feel involved in the exceitement of a new baby.

If the baby’s delivery means a room change, bed change, or similar alterations for your toddler, it’s best to have those changes take place several months before your due date. That allows for adequate adjustment time before your delivery.

There are also several children’s books that focus on the topic of becoming a big brother and those can be very helpful for toddlers. 

When your new baby is born it is natural that your time may be more consumed with caring for the newborn, which provides a great opportunity for your son to have special time and activities he gets to do with dad or another caregiver.

At the same time, it’s important to keep consistency present for your toddler. If he senses that the rules are softer, discipline has changed, or a loss of structure to their day, it is often a recipe for increased behavior difficulties. I often tell my patients, "If it was a rule before the baby was born, keep it a rule after the baby is born."

Congratulations on your pregnancy and expecting arrival! I hope this advice helps.

Read more answers by Dr. Nichols