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A Brand-New Sibling

Of all the stages of my eight children's lives, it's their toddler years that stood out most. Though as babies they warmed my heart every day, after one year they got really interesting as their personalities emerged. But the toddler stage can also be the most challenging. Just when you thought you'd figured out your baby's feeding, sleeping, and pooping habits, suddenly there's a slew of new situations and quirks to get a handle on. Here's one of the most common questions that I'm asked at toddler checkups:

What's the best way to prepare my toddler for her new sibling who's on the way?
As you can imagine, my wife, Martha, and I have had lots of experience introducing our brood to its newest additions! One of our favorite ways to prepare them was to get out photo albums and replay their babyhood. We'd sit on the couch with them, page through the pictures, and narrate with comments like "You'll see that Mommy's going to spend a lot of time holding and feeding the new baby, just like she did with you!" Get your child involved by encouraging her to pat your pregnant tummy and talk to her new brother or sister. Take her along when you're shopping for things for the baby and get her opinion. You can also ask her which toys she'd like to share, and have her draw pictures of what she thinks her little brother or sister will look like.

Once your newborn arrives, it'll be hard to divvy up your time, but it's important that your child doesn't feel left out. Let her sit on your lap when your infant's sleeping, or curl up for a nap next to you. And when your husband's watching the baby, take the opportunity to play with your toddler or read to her, rather than running around the house doing chores.