We have a 3-year-old boy who has been the center of our universe all his life. This is bound to be a tough transition. That’s why I wanted to start thinking about this well in advance of his baby sister’s arrival. Once I started showing, we started to introduce him to the concept. Here are 5 things we’ve been doing to help with the transition from single child to older brother. Crossing fingers it works!
(1) TALK ABOUT BABY, INVOLVE OLDER SIBLING
Like I mentioned above, we started talking about Jackson’s baby sister once it was clear there was something going on in my belly. He’s still young so the concept is foreign and he can’t really converse about it. We decided to start small by “introducing” him to his little sister and simply talking about it – EVERY DAY. Consistency is key.
Jackson helped us to prep her room. He’s picked things out at the store for baby sister and we encourage him to talk and sing to her. In the beginning we had to ask him to say good morning or bye bye to baby sister but now he does it all on his own. He’s actually proud of being a big brother and asks others to “Say hi to baby sister” or “Touch baby sister.” lol It’s adorable. Just today he said “Mama come!” hugged my belly and started whispering things at my tummy. They have secrets already!
“Preview, preview, preview!” We preview her arrival all the time – especially now that we’re getting toward the end of the pregnancy. One day Jackson picked up a magazine of a mama giving birth and brought it over to me and said “Mama, look at the baby.” I was a bit alarmed at first LOL – but now we just talk about it openly. Mommy is going to push out baby sister, does Jackson want to meet baby sister? Do you love your baby sister? What are you going to help mommy with when baby sister is here? Is that baby sister’s car seat? She’ll be here soon! etc, etc…
We brought Jackson to our doctor appointment so he could “see” baby sister in the ultrasound and hear her heartbeat. It’s absolutely adorable. Video below.
(2) GIFTS & PHOTOS AT HOSPITAL
Many of my mommy friends that have children 2-4 years apart swear by this tip! Bring a present to the hospital for the older sibling that is “from” the younger sibling. Apparently, they love it and it makes them feel included. Going with the same thought process – bring a photo of the older sibling(s) to the hospital with you so that they see that you were thinking about them.
(3) PRACTICE DOLL & OTHER BABIES
Another great tip from one of my mommy friends! I got Jackson a baby doll with some “accessories” – things I thought he would be able to help me with once baby is born. I headed to Toys R’ Us and picked out a baby that’s about the length / size of a normal newborn and bought diapers, bathing toys, a bottle, pacifier, change of clothes and some toys.
We talk about how to care for baby and go through the motions of being gentle, changing diapers, putting baby to bed and doing every day things. It’s really cute to see him interact with the doll and it previews some of the things that he can expect when baby arrives. My son is very visual and our occupational therapist recommended these types of techniques for every day activities (see “You Want My 3-year-old to see an OT??” blog) – so we applied those techniques to this situation.
Of course there’s no real substitution for the real thing! So if you have friends with babies, use them as a teaching tool. We also show Jackson pictures of himself when he was a newborn and in mommy’s tummy and tell him how special that was.
(4) BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING
No matter how much you prepare, you can’t count on the older sibling(s) reacting a certain way. My moto is “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” Older siblings often regress a bit – crawling, wanting diapers, etc… try to be mentally prepared for anything.
(5) MAKE TIME FOR OLDER SIBLING
Once baby is born, mom and dad need to make a point to make time for the older sibling. Since you’ll be tired and consumed with the new baby it’s important to make time to have one-on-one time that makes them feel special.
Here’s my favorite clip from the longer video above!! I can’t stop watching it!
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