My kids are five years apart, so when I found out I was pregnant with my second my daughter was old enough to understand what that meant. She wasn't mature enough, though, to really understand how her life was about to change. She would go from being an only child, to sharing the spotlight — something most people aren't thrilled about. So I made sure to prepare her for the arrival of her baby brother by doing all of the things you should do with your kid before their sibling is born.
Full disclosure: my daughter isn't into babies. I guess she takes after me in that respect, because babies are just not my thing, either. Well, unless they are my own, of course. Still, after my son was born my daughter seemed so prepared. In fact, she helped with everything. She brought me diapers when I was too tired to move and put my pump parts in the sink when I couldn't fathom standing up. She sat by me when I nursed and gently stroked her brother's newborn little head. She became a great big sister even though, like I said, she "wasn't into babies."
Getting a sibling is a major adjustment for a kid, especially a slightly older kid who is used to being the center of attention. So preparation is key. There are no sure ways to prepare your child for when his or her world gets turned slightly upside down, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't at least try. And no matter how you choose to prepare your kid, know that siblings have an amazing bond and even if they start off a little shaky, they will grow to love and appreciate one another more than anything else.
Show Your Child The Ultrasound
One of the first steps my partner and I took was showing our daughter the sonogram. While she had no idea what she was looking at, we still pointed out the spot where the baby was supposed to be. She was in awe at the fact that a baby could be inside my stomach. We tried to explain how the baby grows inside the mother's stomach, but she was too little to understand. In any case, just showing her that picture was enough to get her interested in the new baby.
Take Your Child With You To Appointments
As soon as my obstetrician was able to hear the heartbeat of my baby, I started bringing my daughter with me to appointments whenever I could. She got to listen to the baby's heartbeat and be there for the entire process and, as a result, the entire pregnancy felt more real to her. She was really excited when the doctor let her press the fetal doppler to my stomach and listen to the baby all on her own.
Take A Sibling Class
The hospital in which I was delivering offered sibling classes, so my partner and I signed up and brought our daughter. In this class, the presenters spent a good amount of time talking about babies and their behaviors, teaching the kids about choking hazards for babies and toddlers, doing arts and crafts, and instructing the kids how to change diapers. At the end of the class, my daughter received a certificate which she carried around with pride.
Take Your Child Shopping For The New Baby
There is always so much that is needed for a new baby, even if you have some things you can reuse from your first child. The new baby still needs diapers, wipes, pacifiers, bottles, and so on. So, if you are having a shower, take your firstborn with you to register. If you are just purchasing things on your own, take your kid with you to go shopping. Either way, involve your child as much as possible.
Read Your Child Books
There are so many books available to prepare your firstborn for a sibling. We read Hello Baby by Lizzy Rockwell and Babies Don't Eat Pizza by Dianne Danzig. Both books were charming and cute and my daughter really enjoyed listening to me read them. And later on in my pregnancy, she also hugged my belly and felt the baby moved as we read.
Shower Your Child With Love & Reassurance
Don't forget this is a huge change for your child and, as a result, your child may start to feel apprehensive about the new baby. An older child, especially, will start to pick up on random cues that a new baby is a big deal. My daughter once told me, "You are doing do much for the new baby and he isn't even here yet. What if you forget to do stuff for me?" That totally broke my heart, so I reassured her she will always be our number one girl and will never be forgotten. But sometimes, when you're running around in a frenzy of preparing for a new child, you may forget that your kid picks up on more than you realize.
Spend A Ton Of Time Together
Before my son was born, my husband and I took a trip to Washington, D.C. with our daughter. He went for work and we went for fun. My daughter and I spent every minute together visiting museums, shopping, and eating cupcakes. We stayed only for a couple of days, but it was a great miniature family trip that was a wonderful prelude to use becoming a family of four.
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