I am so excited to share with you all the first piece to our series! Bringing Home Your Precious Bundle a group of real mom’s sharing tips and suggestions from their own experiences with bringing home their babes. To start us off we have Brea from BreaGettingFit!
Hi! My name is Brea, and I’m a mom to two amazing little boys who are 4 years apart in age. My oldest son was diagnosed with Severe Aplastic Anemia when I was 8 months pregnant with the baby (who will be 1 next week!)-stressed does not begin to cover it! Thankfully I have an amazing husband and family who stepped in to help. If I can do this with a critically ill child, you can, too. Nothing is impossible.
When I was asked to contribute to this series, I jumped on the chance. Introducing a new baby into our family has been a rollercoaster over the past year, but it’s also been an amazing experience. It’s so much fun to watch .
When I found out that I was pregnant with my second child, I was ecstatic…and then reality sunk in: How would I explain a sibling to my son?
Sure, he’d been practically begging for a baby, but he really didn’t understand what that meant. So I started talking to other moms who had been through it. And their advice was all the same: every kid is different. Not exactly helpful, if you ask me. My older son is full of life and energy, but is also very resistant to change. Let’s just call him “spirited” for the sake of brevity.
While I agree that every child is different, I think that there are certain things we moms can do to help everyone adjust.
Should I Explain?
My son was old enough to understand that there was going to be a new baby, and he was so excited about it. He wanted his own baby doll to “practice” on, so we complied. His “baby” has his own diapers, clothes, and even a bed. This phase didn’t last long, as a toddler’s attention span is incredibly short. As we got closer and closer to my due date, he came up with some rather interesting questions, such as “how does the baby come out?”
We elected to be honest with him (I had a c-section with both of my boys), and explained how the doctor would get the baby out when the time came. If you’d rather not go into all of that (and honestly, if I hadn’t had a c-section, I don’t know what I would have said!), I found it helpful to redirect focus to all of the “fun” big brother responsibilities.
Now, if your child is younger than two, they will not understand what is happening, at least not yet. Remember that 9 months is a really, really long time to a toddler! I suggest that you answer questions, and focus on the short-term, especially if you will be having your children close together.
Ask For Help While You Nest
When we were preparing for the baby’s arrival, my son wanted to help…all.the.time. And more often than not, as much as he was trying to be helpful, he just wasn’t. And when you’re 100 months pregnant, just sorted all of the clothes, only to have them “sorted” and unfolded again…you need to find a better way.
So I started asking for help. We have always expected our son to do simple chores, but these “chores” were a lot more fun. He got to pick out which pictures (out of two options) were going to hang in the baby’s room. He helped pick out new furniture for his room so that the baby could have the crib. He loved choosing which outfit to bring baby home from the hospital in, as well as picking out which room he wanted the baby to sleep in.
The more he helped, the more excited he got.
Make A “Big Sibling” Book
One of my favorite things that I did for my son was to create a “Big Brother” book. I used a simple template, and put in the dates, times, and pictures that were applicable to my older son. He loved his book. It was a great way to remind him that he had been a baby, and his little brother was going to be small, too.
He also loved that it was (mostly) all about him. If you don’t have time to make a book, there are lots of great big brother and big sister books out there that you can read along with your child.
Assign Post-Baby Jobs…Before Baby Gets Here
If your child is older (at least 3), they’re probably going to want to help. I found that with my son, it was far more efficient to talk to him about what his “jobs” would be when it came time to take care of little brother. He was in charge of clean diapers, pacifiers, and outfits. He loved that he got to be a little more in control, and was super excited that his little brother would need him for things.
Go Do Some “Big Kid” Stuff
When that new addition arrives, you’re probably going to want to hibernate and lock your doors for awhile. I didn’t want to leave the house for over a month-the though of packing a diaper bag instantly sent me into hysterical tears. And then there’s the other problem…you’ll no longer have just one (or two) kids.
…you’re adding another baby, which definitely changes things. I still don’t go to the Zoo without my hubby because it’s just too overwhelming to keep track of both boys!
So before your baby gets here, take your older child out and do something fun (or a lot of fun somethings!). Need ideas? Try these:
- A movie in the park
- Water park
- Splash pad
- A museum or the zoo
- Have a date night (or day)
- Go on a short trip (like the beach)
Decide If Your Toddler Should Come To The Hospital
I was not able to see my son while I was in the hospital recovering, because he was also in the hospital. However, not having the option made me think about whether or I really wanted him to see me like that.
My son was terrified of pokes (though he now sits through blood draws like a champ!), and seeing me in the hospital, especially when I was tired and not my best may not have been a good idea for him.
I know that I’m going against the grain here, but give it some thought. We had a beautiful moment when my husband and I arrived home with our new baby. My older son was in familiar territory, and had time to adjust. He even gave the baby a tour if his house. It was precious.
If you are having a hospital birth, you may not want to see your toddler (I know, it sounds crazy) right away. Consider whether or not you want visitors at all, and if you do, when you would like them to come.
Be Prepared to Explain Everything
My son was full of questions about nursing, why I couldn’t get down on the floor to play, and more. He wanted to know why his brother’s parts were so small, and why his poo was yellow. He wondered about his belly button, and whether or not it would turn out all right. He constantly wanted to use the Nose Frieda…. It was a lot of explaining, and reexplaining all of the new and different items and routines that became part of our life.
Enjoy your child’s inquisition-it’s fun watching them learn, and it’s really fun when you see them remember the answer themselves.
What did you do to prepare for a new sibling?
Breanna Gunn is a boymom, the creator of BreaGettingFit, and full-time mama bear. Her older son was diagnosed with Severe Aplastic Anemia when she was 8 months pregnant, so preparing him for a new sibling was a fun distraction.
When she’s not doling out unsolicited parenting advice online, she’s working out, having fun, and doing yoga with her boys.