When we learned that we were expecting baby number two we were ecstatic. My partner and I both come from big families and are still close with our siblings now that we are adults – so we really hoped that our son would know the blessing of a sibling relationship. Still, we knew it would be an adjustment. For two years he had been the center of our universe and to suddenly introduce another person who demands a lot of the attention he was not used to sharing – well, we wanted to do everything we could to start them off on the right foot.
Here are the things we did to prepare our toddler for the arrival of his new sibling:
- Read books about new brothers or sisters. We checked several books out of the library which helped spur conversations about what it would be like when his new brother or sister arrived.
- Involve him in the pregnancy. He came with me to all my midwife appointments, heard the heartbeat and helped take my blood pressure. At home I would help him feel the baby kick and praise him for showing affection to my baby belly.
- Interact with babies. Luckily we knew some families that welcomed new siblings a few months before our baby was due. We were able to take Leo over to their home to meet the babies and see his friends become big brothers or sisters.
- Ask friends and family to help. We asked our friends and family to make sure that when they came to meet our new baby that they make a point of greeting the big brother first. We also asked that they allow him to introduce his new sibling. Everyone was great about giving him equal attention and some even brought "congrats on becoming a big brother" gifts.
I guess there's no way to really know if any of this made a difference, but I like to think it eased the transition into big brotherhood. What is your advice for preparing older siblings for a new arrival?