Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Preparing a Toddler for a New Baby!

With my due date quickly approaching, I find myself savoring my alone time with little J. I am nostalgic for when she was a little baby, and I've been marveling at how much she's grown, how much she can chit chat, the funny things she says, and her sweet, bubbly personality. She woke up unusually early this morning, but I was excited to get into her bed for an hour of cuddling, reading, and telling stories. Such precious moments.

I have been thinking about how to prepare her for the new baby. I know she will be loving and attentive toward her little sister, but I also know that there will be times of jealousy, and it will be a big adjustment overall. Here are some great ideas to ease the transition:

1. Reading books about being a big sister or brother. Little J loves books so it's the perfect way to introduce her to the world of big-sisterhood. I have gotten a bunch of books, but my favorites are Big Sisters are the Best and My New Baby. Both have great illustrations and easy-to-understand story lines.

2. Make the baby their baby, not yours. We try to address the baby as "Jiya's baby sister" rather than "Mommy's new baby" - I am hoping that she will feel a sense of ownership toward the little one, which will make it easier to adjust. When we talk about the baby, we try to include little J. I ask her questions like, "what will we do when the baby cries?" and she tells me she will "give her a pacifier!" I think she will like being a helper... so we've been taking that approach to prepare her. I have heard from other new moms that the big sibling should be consulted on little decisions involving the baby, which will make them feel involved and proud. For example, "should we put the baby in this yellow onesie, or this green one? should he wear white socks or blue socks today." I can see how a toddler would love this sense of importance!

3.  Make the room/crib transition at least 6 weeks in advance. We got little J our of her crib and into her new bed in her big-girl room in early July, to get her well adjusted before her old room gets taken over by the little one. This went surprisingly well. She adores her big girl room and already refers to the nursery as "sister's" room.

4. Have the new baby bring his or her big sibling a gift. This is a tried-and-true idea, where the big sibling gets a gift (allegedly from the new baby) upon arriving at the hospital to meet him or her. I have already mentioned to little J that "her" new sister will be bringing her a present, and she is so excited. She asks about it all the time! I think it's a great way to get the older sibling to like the new baby right away. We got little J a bunch of fun gifts that I know she will love. My favorites are these adorable sister bracelets, this carrier for her dolls, and this Dora movie about being a big sister.

5. Give the older sibling as much attention as you give the little one. This means, try to praise the big sister as much as you ooh and aah over the new baby, and try to make time for one-on-one with the older child. I think it's a great idea to talk to both children. Sometimes you can say "hang on big bro, I am changing the baby's diaper" - but other times you can throw in, "hang on baby, I'm reading with your big sister right now." It will make the child feel important and will go a long way toward their initial relationship. I also love the idea of getting a bunch of small items like stickers, cars, candy, etc. for the older sibling to open every time someone comes over with a gift for the new baby. It will definitely make them feel less left out and more involved.

Do you have any other tips to help us through the transition period? I would love to hear any advice!

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