We're getting closer and closer to becoming a family of four. The days and weeks have been flying past us and in all honesty, I don't know where that last 33 weeks have gone. But something I've thought about a lot in that time, and I'm sure it's a topic that gets every parent thinking, or even worrying, is how will our toddler adjust to becoming a big brother/sister? It's a big transition to go from being the baby of the family, having your parents and grandparents undivided attention to there suddenly being someone else in the picture that's smaller and needier than yourself. It's one of the questions I'm asked most when chatting to family, friends, pretty much anyone I meet, 'Is Archie excited about the baby?' and to be honest, it's a difficult one to answer. For quite a few months I really don't think he had any concept of what a new baby meant. He had just turned 2 when I became pregnant again, and as he hasn't really been around that many young babies he really didn't have a clue. I think he though we were all mad! I think we all would at 2 if we were constantly being told that there's a baby in Mummy's tummy! (Sometimes I can't even get my head around it!)
I thought I would share what we've been doing over the past few months to help him understand more about what's about to happen, and adjust to the idea of becoming a big brother. Each of these little tips have either worked for us so far, or we're going to be trying once the baby arrives, so although I'm no expert, I thought I would write them all down in the hopes that it might help some of you going through a similar time in your life. I also wanted to share with you some of these photos because even though I'm so excited for there to be a brand new baby in the house, I feel sad that this chapter of it just being the 3 of us is nearly over.
A Special Arrival
1. A bit obvious but a good place to start is telling your little one about the new baby and see what response they have. This will obviously vary greatly depending on their age and level of understanding. I think it's really important to make it all feel special and tell them what an amazing big brother or sister they'll be to try and get them excited about the idea too. Maybe the new baby could 'write' them a card letting them know they're looking forward to meeting them. We also got Archie a T-Shirt which says big brother and he loved this! I think we can underestimate toddlers sometimes, and assume that if they can't see something they won't be able to grasp the concept, but Father Christmas and The Easter Bunny are big deals in the house, so even though the baby might not seem real to them just yet, they understand something exciting is going to happen.
Love The Bump
2. Try not to put too much pressure on them to love/cuddle/kiss your bump. This was definitely what I was doing in the early days as I thought it would help him understand it more, but I think sometimes it can be a bit too much for them. If your toddler is anything like mine, they will just want to do the opposite, so pick your moments wisely, but when they do decide that baby needs a bit of love, lots of praise works really well and nothing prepares you for the first time your belly gets a random kiss or cuddle. I definitely cried!
3. Something that's helped massively is reading Archie books about becoming a big brother/sister. We noticed a big change in the way he understood what was happening after we had read them a few times. He seemed more excited and gentle and started talking about 'his baby' a lot more. There are some really lovely books on this subject. Here are the ones we got but I'm sure there are lots more: 1 2 3
4. Get them involved in preparing for the new baby. Let them help with washing and folding their siblings clothes (even if it takes 10 times as long). Archie has really enjoyed helping us open anything that's arrived for the baby, and putting things like the pram together. It's also great to get them a doll around this time if they don't already have one. They can help you put a nappy or a baby grow on it, or push them around in the pram to see what it'll be like when the real baby arrives.
A Gift From The Baby
5. This one might not be for everyone but we decided to tell Archie that his baby brother is going to be bringing him a present when he's born. He's been so excited, and reminds us all the time that his brother's bringing him 'The Look Out" (Paw patrol for anyone lucky enough not to know) when he arrives. I totally get that some might not be comfortable about doing this and it shouldn't be about presents but one of my earliest memories is actually of a little pink box filled with tiny nappies and a baby bottle for my dolls which my little brother gave to me when he was born. I think it's the start of building the bond they'll have as siblings and we've told him he can get a present for the baby too.
Meeting The Baby
6. Something that a few people have suggested and I actually think I'll try is to have the new baby in their cot/crib next to you instead of holding them when your toddler comes to see you both for the first time. It really might not make any difference but it makes sense that it could be quite confusing for a toddler to see their Mummy holding another baby. It only needs to be for the first few minutes, but giving him some attention first before picking up the baby and introducing them to each other seems like a more gentle way to go. But I'd love to know if anyone else did this and what happened when your children met for the first time.
So they're just a few ways in which we've been trying to help Archie transition into becoming a big brother. Of course the most important thing to remember is that with such a small age gap, one day he might not even remember a time when his baby brother wasn't here! But whatever his reaction when the time finally does come, I know he'll become the best big brother. I'm already so proud of him. I'd love to hear any tips or your experiences, if you've already gone from one baby to two! Any advice is much appreciated!
Love Kate x
I'm wearing: Night Shirt: Primark