I’m still months away from having my second child, but the guilt has already arrived. Guilt and anxiety over how Thud will cope with the arrival of his little sister.
My child has had 100% of his parents’ attention for his entire life. It’s extreme. We’re not particularly hands-off parents. We are pathetic and indulgent and we treat him like he’s something really spectacular. If he were going to be an only child, he’d probably end up the most awful, spoilt, self-obsessed child on the planet. We do it all wrong.
But at the moment, he’s an incredibly happy and loved little boy and I’m really worried about how he’ll cope when the world isn’t revolving around him anymore.
So I asked my readers what they did to prepare their children for the arrival of a new baby, and as I expected they were full of ALL the advice.
Here are my top picks (and consequently, what we’ll be doing to prepare Thud):
I just explained to him that he was going to have a little brother to teach and help with everything! Then totally involved him by letting him get the nappies and wipes and bibs and things to help and he totally loved it. When the baby cried the older boy would go get the dummy and pat him and they formed their very own bond from that! – Leanne J
One thing I do regret is that we weren’t clear with her that I would be in hospital for a few days, and I think she struggled more with that than my sweet hubbie has let on. I wish I’d thought to prepare her more for that. The joy of hindsight eh?! – Caroline R
The baby ‘gave’ a present on that first hospital visit when they arrived which always went down well. I also wasn’t holding the baby when they came in but had my arms free to cuddle them. I always found that they loved the baby, but any negative behaviour or regression was directed towards me. It does settle down after a couple of months, but I think no matter what you prepare for they always throw a curve ball! – Nicola B
The only other thing I’d suggest is not to plan to do anything major like move Thud out of a cot or toilet train or get rid of a dummy etc in the few months after the baby arrives. Anything like that you think you’ll need to do, try to do now or put off for a while – Melanie M
A bit of advice to me was don’t tell the older sibling what they can’t do (don’t poke his eyes) but tell and show them how to interact with the baby (pat his head gently like this) so they feel involved not rejected from showing interest – Liz T
One awesome thing we did was to give our 2yo a disposable camera when he came to visit the baby for he first time so he could be involved and take his own pics. OMG he was obsessed! It was so much fun for all of us and he felt really important and involved. The photos he took are hilarious (a lot of elbows and stunned eyebrows, but some amazingly lucky candid shots too. Too precious). Totally something I recommend now to any mummy friends expecting more babies – Ginny P
I organised familiar people, activities, meals and routines for when I was in the hospital. One night my husband bought a special dinner (take away pizza!) for us all to share in the hospital together. I also had a special ‘feeding time’ box full of new toys/activities that came out when we got home – Joanne N
You need to get him used to not being carried now!! That was a big thing but I found that the actual pregnancy helped with that as it gave me a good reason. Just be careful not to blame the baby as to why you can’t lift him. I would always say instead “let me sit down and then I can give you cuddles” – Sandra W
Make the new baby a part of casual conversation, like “when the baby comes she will only drink milk ” while Thud eats lunch etc. Or read a short book about new babies or big brothers. Point out babies at the shops. Also setting up our daughter’s bed and a change table and little bits and pieces helped make her real before she was here – Cara M
For two years, your lovely little dictator has basically been able to snap his fingers and you have immediately swung into action – because you could. When number two arrives, it’s no longer possible to do this, because you will invariably be in the middle of changing a nappy, feeding, or just generally dealing with the baby. I highly recommend you start preparing him for this change NOW… the concept of waiting until Mummy is ready takes a while – Robyn B
The baby always has given a present to the older sibling. I also never held the baby when they came to the hospital. They sort of just hung out in the corner of the room and then ” oh, look that’s your baby!” Prep was just including them, buying things at the shop for baby, putting stuff in baby’s room. Feeding bear a bottle and changing nappies on bear. I also put the car seat in early to get them used to the fact the baby will be joining them in the backseat – Chantal K
We bought one of those creepy anatomically-correct newborn dolls & got him to bath with it, dress it, change its nappy and be very gentle. And of course explained about the baby in mummy’s belly at the same time – Pamela F
The most frequent suggestions were about buying presents “from the baby” and to read books about new babies to Thud.
I was lucky enough to get a copy of ‘Too Busy Sleeping’ by Zanni Louise and Anna Pignataro. This new book is about a little girl called Eleanor who is desperate to play with her brand new baby brother Rueben but he’s too busy sleeping (as babies do).
Author Zanni wrote the book after her second daughter was born because she wanted to put a positive spin on the new sibling relationship, without the cliches of jealousy and resentment. In this story Eleanor isn’t upset or jealous, she simply wants to play with her new brother (but, let’s be honest, a newborn is just about the most boring new toy ever).
I’ll be using the book to try and get Thud excited about meeting his little sister. If I try and focus on what a great thing it is, maybe he won’t even consider being jealous?? RIGHT??
Plus, it’ll be a great way to teach him not to expect too much. It’s not exactly like this kid will come out ready to play Lego. She’ll be asleep. All the time. RIGHT?? Please tell me she’ll be asleep all the time. I’ve done the non-sleeping kid. I’ve earned a sleeper.
What did you do to prepare your kids for a new baby? Was your baby a sleeper? Was each kid easier than the one before? SAY YES.
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