26 Feb Prepping Your Child for New Baby – How We’re Doing It
Since this is not my first baby, there’s an added element of fun to this pregnancy, baby’s big sibling! While giving your son or daughter a younger sibling is one of the greatest gifts you can give them, the transition from only child or baby-of-the-house to big sister or brother can be hard to digest for some kiddos, especially if they’re toddlers or preschoolers. Prepping your child for new baby can be just as important as prepping your home for the baby’s arrival – and just as unnerving! I find myself vacillating back an forth between “He’s going to love every minute of being a big brother” to “What if he loses his mind over this?” Of course, my crazy mommy brain is probably overreacting, but I think it’s worthwhile to put effort into prepping your child for new baby and the big arrival of a sibling!
B has been excited for his baby sister’s arrival since the day we told him we were having a baby! He talks to her, kisses her [blows “toots” on my tummy to her, too], and has even given her a paw patrol nickname like everyone else [I’m Rubble… the construction worker bulldog and I can’t help but notice the direct correlation between my current state – big, fat, pregnant and grunting – and the natural state of an English Bulldog]. Anyways…
Prepping your Child for New Baby – Before the Baby is Born…
No matter how excited he is or THINKS he is, I know that there will probably be a day when he wonders when we’ll be returning the baby to the hospital where we got her. This child of mine is currently the center of the universe, not only as the only child of our family, but as the only grandchild [with 4 aunts and 4 uncles to love on him] on both sides! I’m trying to be as mindful as possible of this transition for him and we’re already working to prepare him for this big life change that will, eventually, be the best gift we could ever give our boy! Here’s what we’re doing:
We talk about our family as the FOUR of us already.
This is something we started doing the moment we had a name picked out for our sweet baby girl! As a family, we talk about how much we love each other and we’re so glad that B is our boy or that I am our mommy or that F is our daddy. Now we make a point to add baby girl to that lineup too!
Here’s a couple of examples:
I’ll say, “I love you, daddy! I love you, B! I love you Baby A!” and my husband will do the same and so will our son!
I’ll say things like “We are the best team! Mommy, Daddy, B and Baby A! There’s nothing we can’t do together!”
B recently started assigning us character names from Paw Patrol. He named me Rubble, F is Chase and he wants to be Sky. I decided to ask him which dog Baby A is and he says she’s “Baby Sky” [which warms my heart because I think he’s seeing her as a smaller version of himself!]. Now we will play Paw Patrol as a family and Baby Sky is just as much a part of it all!
We bought a baby sister doll to practice loving on and helping with.
In November, B and I were out at a toy store and I asked him to pick out a doll that he thought looked like what Baby Sister would look like. He picked her out and we took her home. She came with a baby blanket, a pink bow headband and a bottle. We practice helping mommy feed the baby, rocking the baby and helping get the baby’s bow on her head. I’ll say “Show me how you’re going to hold the baby. Show me how you’re going to kiss the baby. Can you sing to the baby?” I also make a point to tell him how wonderful of a brother he already is by reinforcing these sweet behaviors [see next point].
We talk about how big our boy is and that how being a caring, loving and protecting big sibling is a part of being a big kid.
We talk often about how, just like sleeping in his big boy bed and going potty in the big boy potty, being a loving and caring [and protecting] big brother is a part of being a big boy! When he’s sweet to my belly or shows us how he’s going to help with the baby, we always want to reinforce that behavior with a reminder of how big he is and how proud we are of our boy.
For example, I’ll say “Look, daddy! Look at my sweet, big boy! He’s such a good big brother already! How are you so big? I’m so proud of you!”
I also try to publicly acknowledge how he’s already a good big brother to others, like his teacher and his grandparents. He takes pride in this and I hope it’s something that he’ll take pride in once she’s here, too. My ultimate goal is that he sees the arrival of his younger sister not as something that is happening TO him, but is something that he’s playing a very important roll in. This is our family. Our family is growing. This is what families do and they do it together.
If we’re in public and I see a big sibling with a little baby [like at preschool or church], I make a point to stop and show B and say something along the lines of “Look! He has a baby just like YOU’RE going to have a baby.” I want him to take ownership of the baby as HIS baby, too. She’s not just mommy’s baby.
We watch videos of kids meeting their siblings for the first time in the hospital on YouTube.
To me, this is one of the best things anyone can do in terms of prepping your child for new baby. This is something we just recently started doing, and I love watching him because he gets GIDDY with excitement watching these videos. Just go onto YouTube and search big siblings meet baby for the first time. There are plenty of YouTubers and Bloggers who have documented these moments on the internet for the world to see. We say “Look! He’s meeting his baby sister, just like YOU’RE going to meet your baby sister!” or I’ll ask him “Will you come and visit Mommy and Baby A in the hospital when she comes?” He gets so excited thinking about it and watching other big siblings love on their babies too!
Once the Baby is Born…
Here’s where the unknown begins… We will have a gift for him at the hospital from his baby sister. He will bring a gift to the hospital [that he picks out with his aunt once baby is born] to give to his sister to celebrate her birthday. I’m sure once we get home, he’s going to have a moment in which he wonders when we’ll be sending baby sister back, but hopefully we have done a good job of communicating that this is a forever change for him an done that he should be proud of. Once baby arrives, if there are any other tips I’ve picked up along the way, I will share them here!
In the meantime, what did you do [or what steps are you currently taking] in terms of prepping your child for new baby? What did you do once baby arrived to help your toddler with the adjustment?