I must admit that one of the things I was most worried about when I welcomed my third child into the world was how well my toddler would react. At nearly 2 years old, she never really understood the whole pregnancy thing.
Although she came with me to nearly every doctors appointment and she saw many ultrasounds, I’d ask her where her brother was and she would lift up her shirt to show me her belly. My oldest daughter was 2-1/2 when we welcomed Avery into the world and those six months can make a huge difference.
Avery has been very attached to me lately and gets jealous very easily. The last thing I wanted was for her to feel like I was ignoring her because I couldn’t give her as much attention as I did before.
The day after our son was born my husband brought both girls up to meet their new baby brother. Much to my surprise Avery welcomed him with open arms and has been great with him ever since.
There were a few things I did to prepare Avery for the arrival of her baby brother so that we could help the transition go a little bit smoother. I did many of these things with my oldest, too, when Avery was born, so they’ve proved to work with both girls.
Here are the five things we did to help prepare my toddler to meet a new sibling:
1. Preparation is key.
As I mentioned before, there was a lot that I did to prepare Avery before her little brother was born. I spoke openly with her about having a little brother and how great she was going to be as a big sister. I took her with me to most of my doctors appointments so that she could see the baby on the ultrasound screen. We also put out many baby gear items in our apartment well before his arrival so that she would adjust well with having them around and know that they weren’t toys for her to play with.
2. Have a family member talk to your tot before going to the hospital to meet the new addition.
Although they might not fully understand, have someone talk to your toddler about what they will see and who they will meet when they get to the hospital. Both my husband and my sister spoke with the girls about their new baby brother not only to prepare them, but to help get them excited about meeting the newest addition to our family.
3. Show them a photo.
With technology these days, it’s easy to send a photo within minutes after the birth. My sister was watching the girls while I was in labor and delivery, and I sent her a photo right away to show to the girls. Once everyone was cleaned up we also video chatted with them so that they could “meet” their baby brother before actually seeing him in person. They weren’t going to come up to the hospital until the next day so this was a great way to help prepare them a little about what was ahead.
4. Get them a gift.
I got both girls a gift from their new baby brother so that when they arrived at the hospital they felt special and loved. I didn’t want them to feel like the focus was solely on the new baby. Instead, I showed them that their brother wanted to welcome them as well.
5. Set time for them.
Although a baby requires a lot of your attention and time during those first few months, there are times you need to set aside just for your tot. Newborn babies sleep a lot, so sometimes I’ll place the baby in the swing or bassinet and play with Avery and Harlan. Sometimes it’s just cuddling and other times they want to play dress up. Whatever it is, it’s a great way for them to know that although we have this little baby in our family, I still have time for them and love them just as much as I did before!
Of course these tips aren’t foolproof and won’t work for everyone, but they have worked for both girls. I couldn’t be luckier to have them transition so well with the new baby.
Avery has blown me away with how welcoming she was to her brother, and the love she already shows for him is incredible. The first night we brought him home I found her “reading” books to him on the floor. And the first thing she wants to do in the morning when she wakes up is see her “brother” as she calls him. I can’t wait to continue to watch their relationship grow!
More from Lauren on Babble:
- Pregnant Woman Kept on Life Support Until Birth
- To induce or not to induce? Why I’m at a Standstill
- Embracing the Last Moments of my Last Pregnancy
- What’s in my Hospital Bag
- 10 Ways to Get Better Sleep While Pregnant
- 8 Tips for Sharing a Small Space
- 11 Stylish Pregnant Moms to Follow on Instagram
Read more from Lauren at her personal blog, A Mommy in the City, where she chronicles her life living in New York City with a suburban mentality. For more updates, follow Lauren on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram!