- Explain that you’re having a baby. This is a great place to start. (Am I stating the obvious here? ;)) When I found out that I was pregnant with our third child, I explained to my daughter Haven that there was a baby in my tummy that God had created. She was so excited and couldn’t believe it! I told her that the baby would be growing every day and that she could hold him/her in nine months. She asks me every day if she can hold “baby Luke” yet. It’s so sweet!
2. Involve them in the preparation for the baby. Whenever possible, I show Haven and Kaid, (my 1 year old), how we are getting ready for another baby. We started decorating the nursery, and when my husband painted it, I took them both to the room and said, “Look! The room is painted for your baby brother. Won’t he love sleeping in here?” The kids just smile and get super excited. Kaid feeds off Haven’s energy, so it’s been a party lately since she’s so happy to have another brother! Once we start buying more clothes and supplies I will be sure to let both the kids help put things away, and decorate. (According to what works for their age of course!)
3. Make them feel involved in the pregnancy whenever possible. I know these sound similar so bear with me. For my last doctors appointment, I made a mommy daughter date out of it and took Haven with me. We had Chick-Fil-A for breakfast, then headed to Kaiser where she got to see her brother in an ultrasound. To be honest she was concerned for me most of the time, and kept asking if I was ok. I reassured her and let her know that the baby and I were doing great, and that I have these appointments to make sure we are both healthy.
4. Buy books that prepare them for being a big brother or sister. This one and this one are great choices, and are easy ways to help your child learn what it means to be a big brother/sister. It also helps prepare them for what it will be like having a tiny little baby in the home. Also, what kid doesn’t love books?! Talk about an easy way to teach them!
5. Make any necessary transitions early. Remember when I mentioned earlier that I learned what not to do before a new baby comes? This was the area I really dropped the ball when I was pregnant with my son Kaid. We co-sleep, and I had every intention of getting Haven to her own bed before our son was born. But I never really planned when, and so I just never got around to it. And you mommas know how it is once a new baby comes. Adding one more thing to your plate just seems daunting. So Haven AND Kaid co-slept with us for a while. (I’m pretty certain my lack of sleep was from paranoia of having two kids in my bed, and not so much from having a newborn!) This time around our son is transitioning to his toddler bed early. Actually this past week we have been helping him to sleep in his own bed at night! If there are any transitions your child needs, plan well and do it at least two months in advance. It’ll be worth it. Take it from a momma bear who knows how hard it is when you wait too long!
6. Do some shopping together. Are you catching a theme yet? I’m all about cultivating “togetherness.” I haven’t done too much shopping yet since I only just started making purchases for the baby. But whenever I do anything, even online, I do my best to include the kids. Yesterday I was doing a little online shopping, and every time I saw something I wanted to purchase for the nursery, I’d show Haven the pictures and ask, “I want to put this in Luke’s room. Do you think he will like it?” She loves when I include her, and her responses are so cute, and also pretty hilarious sometimes!
7. Let your toddler feel the baby move. Haven and Kaid felt the baby move for the first time last week and oh.my.gosh it was the cutest thing in the world! Haven was mesmerized, and Kaid was indifferent about it since he’s only a year old. (He doesn’t quite know why I put his little hand on my belly.) Since that evening, both kids have constantly run up to me and put their hands on my tummy. Haven always asks if baby Luke can say hi. It’s so sweet! (Also, I’ve said “it’s so sweet” about 100 times in this post because seeing their excitement is just too much to handle!!)
8. Talk about the changes, and what it will be like when the baby arrives. This is so important! I am constantly explaining to Haven what it will be like when Luke gets here. From how to care for him, to how she can best help, and even that I will have a “boo boo” from the c-section. Anytime we are talking about her brother I do my best to explain how life will be different, but in the most beautiful and amazing way. I even recommend playing with a stuffed animal or baby doll, and pretending it’s a baby. You’d be surprised how much a child can remember and learn. Even Kaid pretends his stuffed reindeer is a baby and pets it gently.