I remember feeling like I would be cheating on Hoss when I was pregnant with my second. We got lucky with him, though. He welcomed his little sis with open arms, and there were very few and infrequent bouts of jealousy. He adored her from day one.
My little girl, however, she’s my clingy one. She’s almost two, but still loves to be held and close as much as possible. I don’t know how she’s going to react to having to share her spot in my lap.
Since Hoss did so well, we’re preparing Lady A. for the new baby in the same way we prepared him. And I’m hoping that since she and her brother play so well, that he can step in and help me with her during the intense newborn weeks. He’s already doing things like dressing her, getting her snacks, and reading to her – without any prompting on my part!
I’m sure it’ll be an adjustment for all of us. I just can’t help but worry that it’ll be especially tough on Lady A. So, we’re doing things to create a positive vibe around the idea of a new baby in the house.
Before the New Baby Comes
We started teaching independent play. I’ll say things like, “you can do your puzzle or play trains for a while, and Mommy will read her book.” This will teach her to entertain herself while I’m occupied. I started with short periods, one or two minutes, and gradually worked my way up to 15 minutes or more.
Bonus: I get to read a book!
I try to remember to sit in the same room and be and accessible, because when I’m nursing or soothing the baby, I may appear to her as available for play when I’m actually not. I want to get her used to playing near me but not with me during independent playtime.
Encourage self-sufficiency when appropriate. I put some portioned snacks and filled sippy cups on low shelves in the fridge and pantry. I’m teaching Lady A. where to find favorite toys and how to set them up herself.
Being almost two, she loves to do things “self” and beams with pride when she accomplishes an independent task for the first time. So I feel less like I’m booting her out of the nest, and more like I’m giving her something exciting to learn.
Every night, we read a book about having a new baby. I wanted the book we chose to line up with how I would be parenting. For example, the baby will be breastfed, so I made sure the book mentioned breastfeeding. The more she knows, the better.
If you’re looking for a book, it’s a good idea to screen the books so that you know how much detail you’re giving. Some books are very lighthearted, explaining that babies cry to tell us what they need and that they can’t eat the foods that bigger kids like.
We check out other babies. When we see babies, I show excitement and say, “we’re going to get a baby like that to live in our house!” I’m hoping she will pick up on my enthusiasm and start to see this as a good thing.
Just After Birth
At the first meeting, both kids will get a gift from the baby. They will choose a welcome gift for the baby, too. My son still remembers that his sister gave him a James train when they first met, and that he gave her a soft blankie.
We’ll present the baby to the child as “your baby.” It takes away competition for Mom, and gives her a sense of responsibility and protectiveness.
Early weeks at home
I’ll set aside a special toy or blanket that comes out only when baby is nursing or I have to otherwise tend to the baby. This is for times that big sister has to sit tight for a while.
We’re learning about baby care. I want to involve her as much as possible. Little ones can grab a diaper or wipe the baby, sing to the baby, burp the baby while you hold him or her, or carefully help with baths. Kids love to feel not only included, but needed.
I plan to put in my calendar a special a one-on-one outing with each child, two to three weeks after the baby is born. It doesn’t have to be extravagant – just an ice cream date or some playground time will do. It’ll be a good time for us to refresh and reconnect.
No matter how well we have prepared, jealousy may happen at some point, and there may be times when I can’t give each child as much of me as they want. That’s okay. Everyone will get used to the new normal and soon they won’t even remember what it was like before the new baby arrived.
Most importantly, I need to remember that the storm will eventually calm. It may seem far off, but following this short period of intensity comes siblings playing with each other and giving me some free time!
What did you do to ease the transition?
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