The baby isn't even here yet and your toddler's making it clear they don't want a brother or sister!
Imagine your partner came home and announced a new lover would be moving in next week. How would you feel? Don't expect your toddler to love the baby just because you do - but don't assume the worst either.
What's behind it?
Don't assume that this is the beginning of sibling rivalry, it may be something more mundane. Depending on their age, it's unlikely that your toddler has really understood what a new baby will mean, in terms of your time and affection. Toddlers may worry about you giving their toys to the new baby or having to go to stay with a relative for a while.
Talk to your toddler
The most important thing is to listen to your toddler. If they are very small, they'll have trouble talking about their worries. Don't ask, 'Why don't you want a new baby?' - your child won't have an answer. If you know a family that has a small baby, take your toddler to visit them. Afterwards, talk about the baby. Your toddler's questions may reveal their worries. For example, 'Where does he sleep?' may mean they're worried about having to give up their bedroom.
Buy a book about having a baby brother or sister that you can read together. Deal with any questions, stressing how much things will stay the same after the baby's birth. Don't put ideas into your toddler's head,that may not have been there before, like 'Mummy and Daddy will still love you when the new baby is born.'
Don't deny your toddler's feelings
If your toddler doesn't want a baby brother or sister, don't get upset because they don't share your feelings of joy.
If your child has a negative attitude, prepare them well for the birth of the baby. Let them feel the baby moving, help you prepare a room and buy small things for the new baby. As you do these things, tell your toddler about all the things you did for their birth and about how you felt. Be sure to explain about going in to hospital and be very clear about who will be taking care of them.
Don't introduce the idea of the new baby too soon
9 months may seem a short time to you but it's eternity to a 3 yr-old! With the typical gap between siblings somewhere between 24 and 42 months, a 'running-in' period of a week or 2 is enough. An older firstborn can cope with more advance warning. If your pregnancy is complicated and you may be rushed to hospital at very short notice, tell your daughter sooner. Most important, make sure she knows who will look after her while you are in hospital.
Be clear and honest
Prepare her in a matter-of-fact and honest way. Don't oversell the new baby. The reality will be a noisy, smelly, demanding creature who can't even talk, let alone be a playmate for her. Visit friends where there is a new baby and tell your daughter she will be a big sister soon.
Explain that the new baby will take up your time and that you may be tired when you come home from hospital. Tell her what it was like when you were expecting her. Tell her how you prepared for her birth and how thrilled you were when she arrived. Show her photographs of herself as a baby.
Familiarity breeds contentment
Things that may seem trivial to you may be significant to 3 year-old. It's not a good time to move your toddler into their own bedroom nor to start at playgroup. Pay attention to the details as well as the big picture - don't give old baby toys or blankets to the new baby without asking your toddler first.
Let your toddler help!
Explain that a new person is coming into the family and everyone has to get ready. Let your toddler be part of the excitement. Let them feel the baby moving in your tummy. Even a small toddler can help you prepare a room, choose wallpaper, get the crib ready, buy the creams and lotions.
Having The Baby
When you go into hospital to have the baby, it's likely to be the longest period of time your toddler has ever been separated from you. Try to lessen the upheaval buy making sure your child will be looked after by someone who is already familiar, and who your toddler feels relaxed and comfortable with.