David Coleman: Prepare your son for new baby first, then worry about toilet training
I AM expecting my second baby in four months, and my first little boy will be nearly two years and four months old by then.
I would like to start potty training soon, but I am wondering whether there is an optimal time to start this (bearing in mind his world is going to change dramatically in four months with the arrival of a baby brother or sister).
I would like to be mindful of this, and stage the potty training at the optimal time for him.
What do you think?
Also, is there anything else I can be doing to prepare my child for the arrival of another baby into the house?
There is little point in rushing him on to the potty as the process will just take longer
WHAT an exciting time, anticipating the birth of a new baby. It is amazing how priorities can change when that new arrival is number two and not number one!
First time around I'm sure your focus was on minding yourself and your health and making all the practical preparations for having a baby. This time you probably have less time for yourself and are spending more time considering the needs of your older boy.
It is great that you are considering him, because even though it is a very natural transition for children to accept a new sibling coming in to the family, it can be a challenge for them, too.
Your new arrival will mean a huge change in the status quo for your older son. It is tempting to try to train him very soon to give as much time as possible for the toilet training to bed in before the new baby arrives. However, the practical expediency of having one child out of nappies before the next arrives needs to be balanced against your older boy's readiness to be trained.
He needs to be both physically and psychologically ready. For example, has he the dexterity to manipulate his trousers/pants on and off? Has he regular bowel movements?
The signs of psychological readiness are:
Is your son showing interest in the toileting habits of others?
Is he asking you to use the toilet or potty?
Is he warning you in advance of his intention to do a wee or poo?
Is he showing an interest in independence generally?
Typically children don't show these signs until they are about two and a half, with some boys not showing any sign of readiness until three and a half.
There is little point in rushing him on to the potty as the whole process will just take longer and you may find that you are still trying to train him when the new baby comes. At that point you will be distracted and have less time to devote to the process.
You might want to wait until he is about three, at which stage he is more likely to be ready. By then you will have hopefully settled in to your expanded family life.
In terms of other preparations for your son regarding his brother or sister's arrival, there are lots of story books for children that can give them an idea of what life will be like with a baby in the house.
When the baby arrives it might be nice to bring a small gift for his or her big brother. Also, do include your son in the care of the baby and make sure that he still gets some one-on-one time with you and his dad.
Remind visitors not to forget about or ignore him on their visits, as it can be hurtful for older children to be dismissed in the rush to see the new baby. If they are bringing a gift for the baby then you might assign your older boy as 'chief present-opener'.
Indeed you might even make it your son's job to be the tour guide, bringing the visitors to meet the new baby and showing them the baby's cot, changing mat, nappies and so on. This is designed to help him feel included in this big family event.
Health & Living