Prepping our Toddlers for a New Baby

The title of this post may sound like I know anything about this subject, but I truly do not. It was trial and error the first time around. And, to be honest, it was rough. Our son adored his baby sister, but was frustrated with me spending most of my time with her. There was a lot of acting out, a lot of getting into trouble, and lots of tears from all of us. Granted, my son just turned two when his baby sister arrived. Some of this would have happened regardless of a new sister. But, her presence escalated each situation, especially while I was nursing her. It took a solid five months for both he and I to figure out how to deal with the transition. I was now a mother of two and he had to share my attention.

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Now, for this second time around, I’m brainstorming what each of them may need when facing something new and different. With an additional two years of motherhood under my belt, I’m hoping I’ve prepared them better for what is to come. I know that it won’t be easy again and there will be rough patches. However, knowing my kids, they will (eventually) welcome this baby with open arms. Here are some ways I’m trying to prep by kids for what is to come:

- Having them involved as much as I can with prepping the room and baby clothes. As I hauled plastic bins full of newborn sleepers, crib sheets, and swaddle blankets up from the basement, the kids “helped” me sort and choose what we would use for this new baby. They were in awe (as was I) at how tiny the sleepers were, and that they were not for the baby doll! They helped me throw everything into the laundry and even “fold” and put it away in the new dresser upstairs. I’m hoping that as we start using these things with the baby they will be excited because they will recognize it from when we were sorting, washing, and putting it away.

- Bedroom Swapping. We live in a 3 bedroom house. In the almost three years that we have lived here, we’ve made several bedroom adjustments. One of the most recent was putting our two kids in the same room. Not only has the transition been easier than I anticipated, I have also seen it strengthen the relationship between our son and daughter. Just in these last few weeks, I have seen them play and share better together and giggle over absolutely nothing. They are developing a separate relationship together, without me, and I hope this helps them be partners in welcoming their new sibling, keeping each other company while I’m busy with a baby.

-Feeling the baby move. This baby might be my most active in the womb between the three of them. Which, has come to be a great learning tool for my older children. Both kids love to come and touch my belly while the baby inside kicks and stretches against my skin. The first time my son felt the baby move, he looked up at me with wide eyes, unbelieving what he felt against his hand. When we finally meet the baby on the outside of the womb, we can admire and talk about his/her strong hands and feet that were moving so much in my body – the same movements they felt!

- Experience around other newborns. While anticipating our own new baby, our extended family and friends have welcomed three newborns within the last couple of months. Each of these newborns have allowed my kids to see how little the babies are, how much they sleep, how gentle you need to be as you hold a baby, what it sounds like when a baby cries, what it looks like when a mama breastfeeds, and the joy of holding a newborn. Both of my kids have shocked me with how long they will sit holding a baby, even with their friends and cousins playing around them. I am hoping this love of babies transfers to our own upcoming sibling!

- Looking at pictures and reading books. Every year for their birthdays, I make a birthday book of pictures for each of our kids. It’s a way that I utilize at least some of the great photos and memories we have shared over the last year of their life. Lately, we have spent time looking at and talking about the first time our son came to visit our daughter at the hospital after she was born. We point out how she was only several hours old, that he was so excited to meet her, that he was able to hold her and that she snuggled into him. We have talked about how they will both come to visit this new baby and Mama in the hospital, and the same will happen all over again. Won’t that be exciting?!
We also have a couple of children’s books about having new siblings. Each of them focus on how exciting it was to bring the baby home, but how frustrating it can be when the older sibling doesn’t get much attention. In the end of each book, the older sibling does see how good it is to have a sibling. I even make the connection that is how our son felt when we brought home his sister, but NOW they are buddies, right?!

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-Bribery: a new toy. I found that the last time around, our son got into the most trouble when I was ‘stuck’ under a newborn breastfeeding or changing a diaper explosion. I eventually started pulling out a favorite toy or book every time I needed to be occupied, so he was a bit distracted. This time around, I bought a new toy that both of them can use. Hopefully it’s going to be my golden ticket of distraction and fun play. One of their favorite toys when we go to ECFE are the Magnatiles they have outside their classrooms. When Magnatiles were on Zulily around Christmas, I bought a box and have hid them in my closet since. When all else is failing, at least I can try this.

I know that this transition is not going to be easy. Who said three kids, under four, would be? But, here we are, and I am going to try my best. If you have any other suggestions, send them my way! I can use all the research and experience I can get. Also, I won’t have a chance to make it before this baby comes, but there is a workshop specifically at Blooma on this subject - Kate Hogan's Preparing Sibling's or Birth! Check out the upcoming dates: June 17 & September 16. Best of luck mamas! Enjoy!

Written by Shea Olson- Wife & Mama Trying to Make it All Work