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Can My Toddler Tell That a New Baby Is Coming?

Mama's boy.

Mama’s boy.

As my due date inches closer and closer, I keep getting asked the same question by curious friends and family — “Does Cullen understand that there is a new baby coming?” It’s hard to really know how to answer that, because I’m honestly not sure that I know the answer myself. As he rapidly approaches age two (WHAT?), I’m seeing new levels of cognitive understanding and language communication on a daily basis. I can’t believe how much detail and awareness he not only retains, but then communicates weeks and sometimes even months later. But does this mean that he can understand a concept as abstract as a baby in mom’s belly? I’m not sure.

He points to my belly and says “baby!” and offers it a kiss. Naturally, my heart melts. But he also points to his own belly and proudly announces “baby!” — so clearly not all of the puzzle pieces are lining up quite yet.  We have several friends who have recently had babies themselves, and he definitely understands the concepts of “new baby” and “baby brother” when we visit. He also feels quite certain that he does not like when mama holds said babies. Uh oh.

But recently I’ve noticed a few changes in his behavior that make me wonder if perhaps subconsciously he actually does have a sense that some sort of big change is on the horizon. First up: sleep. While he’s still sleeping well and regularly, the actual process of getting him to sleep has become a bit more complicated. He used to go into his crib willingly and simply lay his head down when I walked out. Now there is a whole dance of yelling and kicking and begging me not to leave.  He still conks out quickly after I leave the room, but the process is a lot more draining than it used to be.

We’ve also had a number of occasions recently where he’s woken up mid-nap and needed to be rocked back to sleep — something I haven’t done in months and months. He just seems to be seeking extra comfort and perhaps it’s just my pregnancy hormones running wild, but I can’t help but give it to him — especially knowing these last few months (weeks!) of just him and I are passing quickly.

The other new development is his need to be carried or held. While I feel like most toddlers his age are kicking and flailing and begging to be put down to walk independently, more often than not, Cullen often cries and whines, wanting to be carried. Of course he still has his moments, like at the zoo when he wants to race 200 feet away from me at all times, but most of the time he’s in my arms or at my knees whining to be picked up. This development makes me particularly nervous, as in just a few short weeks my arms are going to be otherwise occupied.

I keep trying to tell him that I can’t carry him and that he’s “too big” — because, quite honestly, it’s really physically exhausting for me to haul his 30 pounds around at 34 weeks pregnant. I don’t give into all his whining and tugging because I know that very soon I’m not going to have that option. I’m just not sure why suddenly he’s so desperate to be back in my arms when he’s been racing around on his own two feet for well over a year now.

We have somewhere in the ballpark of six more weeks to figure it all out.  I think he’s going to be a great big brother, and I think we’ll work out all the kinks one step at a time. One thing is for sure — little brother is coming whether Cullen is ready or not!

Coming up next, I’m sharing the ten things I’m doing to try to help prepare Cullen for a new little brother!  Stay tuned.

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