Development FAQ: 24+ months – Entertaining and Educating your Toddler

I am expecting my second baby in six weeks time. My older son, Fred, is two and a half, and has been attending nursery since September. We have talked to him about the baby constantly, but he never shows much interest, and I am concerned about how he will react when the baby arrives. He has been the centre of our universe since he was born, and while in every respect he is a contented little chap, I do worry that he doesn’t cope well with change. For instance, he loves nursery now, but it did take three to four weeks for him to settle down.

Having a second baby brings about many changes in the family that will affect everyone, including your first child. It is a wonderful time for you all, but you are right that toddlers do not like change. There is no perfect age gap between children, but it is generally thought that at around two and a half years, any jealousy they feel is less pronounced. Your child is beginning to have a growing sense of independence, and is unlikely to be threatened by the new arrival. Fred is at a super age to enjoy a new baby. Don’t be surprised that he is showing little interest at the moment. It is natural, since at present he can’t imagine what it will be like to have a baby in the house.

It is a benefit that he has a happy nursery to go to. This will give him a certain security and continuity to his day. It is also a world which is unaffected by the new arrival. Do continue to talk to your little boy about his new brother or sister, and what will happen when the new baby arrives. Make sure that you have explained to Fred where Mummy and Daddy will be when the baby arrives, and who will be looking after him. Encourage him to ask questions, and talk to him about his friends who have had new baby brothers or sisters. Reassure Fred that he will still be able to do the things he enjoys – playing with his trains, going to the park, seeing his friends at nursery etc.. Even if it appears that he is taking no notice, on one level you are preparing him for the change. There are some super illustrated books dealing with a new baby in the family, which can help an older child understand.

Try to involve Fred in plans for the arrival of the new baby. Encourage him to do things for himself when possible, such as putting his shoes and coat on. This will make life a little easier for you when the baby arrives, and it will encourage Fred’s sense of independence.

If you have not already moved Fred from his cot to a big bed, think carefully before doing this now. Ideally a toddler needs two to three months to get used to new sleeping arrangements before the baby arrives. This is a special event in Fred’s life and should not be connected to the arrival of the new baby.