How to prepare your kids for the arrival of a new baby
Hi All! This is likely first in a series of QA I will do with Kristin Smith, as she anticipates the arrival of Baby #2 in October.
How do you get your firstborn to understand Mommy's growing belly?
As your belly grows, and you are out with Kingston, point out when you see families with babies in arms, in strollers, or obvious siblings. Tell him: look that mommy has a baby, that boy has a sister, there’s a new baby in the family….you get the drift….as he ask him to point out families, babies, sibs as well…as he starts to get the connection….then in a moment where it’s perfect, point to your belly, and tell him that mommy and daddy are growing a baby inside of you just for him. Tell him your belly will get bigger and bigger as the baby grows and that later on the baby will come out and join the family. You can also incorporate reading (as I know he loves books) – look for titles about being a big brother, a growing family, etc. Make sure there are plenty of visuals so he can return to the book over and over again, without your help, and remember there is a baby coming. Kids his age rely on books as anchors of their reality, so this is a great strategy for him.
If your OB says it's OK, bring him to a visit to look at the baby on ultrasound, hear its heartbeat. If the baby is moving or kicking, let him listen and feel.
What are your suggestions for getting your firstborn ready for baby #2?
So once Kingston “gets” that you are growing a baby, ask him if he wants to feed the baby, through you. If he offers you bites of food or something to drink, thank him and acknowledge that he is sending food to the baby, and how wonderful that is. Buy him a baby doll all his own, complete with blankets, a little stroller, and let him enjoy playing and preparing.
- Try not to overdue the big brother Sprinkle it in his vocabulary, but at his age, Kingston will always want to be your baby…and once baby is here, important to ask him daily, “do you want to be a big brother today, or mommy’s first love?? and treat his answer accordingly - he can help choose clothing for the baby (put it on, even if the baby looks like a clown), fetch diapers, sing and play….OR if he just needs a good old dose of being #1…when the baby is fed and asleep, scoop him in your arms, sing to him alone and remind him he is your first love, and always will be….Many around him may overwhelm him with the ?Big Brother” concept and you’ll have to see how well he can handle that title…..
- Well before you are due, make sure that there is a gift chosen by, FROM THE BABY, that you will present to Kingston after the baby is born. When he comes to see you in the hospital (and he should)…if you have a vaginal delivery make sure the baby is in the bassinet and not in your arms when Kingston is brought in. Scoop him up in the arms and give him some love, all his own. When he’s ready, ask him if he would like to meet his sibling, and have the gift inside the bassinet with the baby. Bring him up close to the baby (if asleep leave her be) and then present the gift. If he is well, ask if he wants to hold or kiss the baby, and let that all happen. Newborns exude bonding pheromones from their skin, so if he can get a good whiff of the baby, he’s off to a great start!
- If you have a c-section, you probably should wait to see Kingston when your IVs are out, and your haze has cleared…..so on the second day is better….have your hubby get several very large bandaids…and when Kingston comes to see you put the bandaids on the outside of your hospital gown over your belly. Kids his age easily understand booboos and this will indicate to him not to hop on that area, but rather lay beside you. Once home you wear the bandaids on your shirt or pants as a visual reminder. It works…believe it or not.
- Practically speaking each of you should try to give Kingston 15 minutes of completely uninterrupted time a day that is just for him….Label it “Kingston’s Special Time”….to do whatever he wants…but with zero interruption from the baby, doorbells, cell phones, etc….clearly that is a short period of time, but very realistic as you balance the needs of the baby with his. Set a timer to indicate the end of that time…and once it rings continue your time together but remind him it’s now “family time” so if the baby cries or phone rings we now do things for our family.
- Keep Kingston in his routine…don’t start something new (like school or daycare) on the heels of the birth…if you want to do it, do it now so routine is in place before the birth. Same goes with potty training, or losing the pacifier or bottle.
- If you anticipate that the new baby is going to need Kingston’s crib, make the change now to a toddler bed. Let him keep his mattress and bed sheets and coverings. Safest is to put the bed directly on the floor – if he rolls off it’s just a few inches. Snug the bed into a corner of his room so he feels a little containment. If you want, plunk the mattress into a toddler bed or bed of his choosing. Put away the crib for a couple of months so it’s out of sight. Then when the baby comes, you can remind him that he slept there, but now the baby will sleep there, with his/her own sheets, etc.
For a link to the episode on Home & Family go to: https://youtu.be/C7MT4PYo_m0
- Get out some pictures of you pregnant with Kingston, and photos of him growing from infant to toddler. Tell him the new baby will do that too, and from his book on Big Brothering, remind him it will be a while before the baby is ready to play with him. But he can make her smile, help with her clothing, help comfort and entertain her until she is ready to play full on as a sibling (hint hint, I think you are having a girl) : )