10 Ways I’m Preparing My Toddler For A New SiblingEmily Malone
Continuing the thoughts from my last post, as I hit 34 weeks pregnant today, we’re headed deep into “new baby mode” here at our house. I’m getting that itch to get as prepared as possible, which means lots of house projects, organizing, painting, cleaning, and list making. The last time we did this felt so much more simple. I laugh now at how worked up I got about packing a simple hospital bag and figuring out who would take care of our dogs while we were gone.
This time the focus is mostly on Cullen — making plans for his care while we’re at the hospital (which is a post for another day!), and doing our best to prepare him for a new arrival that is going to change so much of our day to day life. It’s hard to know what to expect, how he’ll handle a new baby, how he’s feeling now, etc. – but we’re doing our best to ease him into the transition gradually and comfortably.
Here are ten things were doing to help him prepare for the arrival of his little brother!
Six more weeks to go! 1 of 11
Ready or not, little brother is coming! Here are ten things we're doing to help ease Cullen through this major transition...
Painting the nursery 2 of 11
We've been in our new house for almost three months now, and up until a few weeks ago our nursery has essentially been a storage closet. In fact, most of the time we've kept the door shut. Of course we need to get this room ready anyway, but I also want it to be a space that feels comfortable and familiar to Cullen now instead of later. We painted the nursery a few weekends ago, an we're continuing to pull it together bit by bit.
Moving furniture slowly from one room to the other 3 of 11
We're reusing all of Cullen's old nursery items in the new nursery, which means that Cullen will be getting new furniture in his room. Rather than move everything out all at once, I've been slowly moving things piece by piece. We don't have replacements for everything quite yet (like the crib - eek!), so some things will have to wait. But I've already moved the glider out and replaced it with a more grown-up bounce chair, and we've talked about how baby brother will use Cullen's old chair. Who knows if it's helping or not, but it certainly can't hurt!
Bringing the “baby stuff” out from storage 4 of 11
Last month we went on vacation with my 12-week old niece, and while we were there I noticed that Cullen took a particular interest in her things. He checked out the infant car seat quite a bit, rocking it back and forth and even strapping his stuffed monkey inside. He also had fun sitting on her Boppy pillow (when she wasn't using it, of course). It dawned on me that I should get our baby items out now rather than waiting until the baby's arrival. That way Cullen can familiarize himself with things he's long since forgotten (that were once his!). So far his favorite item is the Bumbo chair, and he carries it all over the second floor proudly announcing, "baby chair!" What a goof.
Replacing some of his “baby” items with boy boy alternatives 5 of 11
Despite the fact that we'll have a new little guy here in just six-ish short weeks, I haven't actually bought a single new thing. We're planning to use all of Cullen's old things for the new baby, so really there has been no need. But some of these "old" things of Cullen's are actually things he still uses - like board books, stuffed animals, etc. He's showing a lot of interest in more story driven books now, so I've been picking up new books for him here and there so we can move some of the baby books off of his shelf. I don't want him to feel like we took his things away, but rather that he got something new because he's growing up. Sniff.
Image and book from Amazon (available for $7.89)
Picking out a gift from baby brother 6 of 11
I've read over and over that it can be helpful to give older siblings a "gift" from new siblings. Cullen's new baby bro will be arriving right around his second birthday, and this will also be the start of our very long rainy season here in Seattle. Because of this, we're springing for a play kitchen for Cullen to enjoy, courtesy of baby bro. My hope is that this will be something that will occupy him indoors when mama is busy feeding or tending to the new baby.
Holding other babies around him 7 of 11
This is definitely his least favorite thing on this list. Cullen is NOT happy when I hold other babies, and cries to be picked up or climb into my lap almost every time. But I'm trying to be persistent and get him used to the idea that mom can hold other kids, and sometimes Cullen has to wait his turn. I expect this to be a difficult part of our transition.
Trying to break some "baby" habits 8 of 11
We have a few big transitions and changes on the horizon - a new brother, of course - but also the transition from crib to big boy bed, as well as potty training at some point. I feel like these are all BIG deals, and because of that I'd like to take care of a few smaller changes sooner than later. Specifically, I really really want to break Cullen from the pacifier. He only uses it to sleep and it doesn't ever leave his crib, but still, I feel like it's time. I know his little brother is likely going to use them, and I'm trying to get Cullen to associate this with babies rather than grown up big brothers. Last night was our first night giving it a go, and it was an epic fail. Yikes!
Teaching him baby brother’s name 9 of 11
We thought it would help for him to be familiar with his baby brother's name before his actual arrival, so we've been practicing having him say it and pointing to mom's belly. Hopefully this will make him feel like he's already familiar with him when he gets here! (And nope, his name is not on this list!)
Image from Nameberry.com
Encouraging big boy activities 10 of 11
While we are by no means doing any sort of formal potty training, I'm trying to use a lot more "big boy" language around Cullen. I want him to understand that certain things are for babies (like swings, pacifiers, bottles) and other things are for big boys (the potty, drinking from cups, riding a bike). I think giving him some individual ownership over some of these big boy things will help him feel less jealous of all the baby talk.
Image and Baby Bjorn Potty Chair from Amazon (available for $23.99)
Soaking up every minute we have left 11 of 11
While I certainly don't mean to imply that anything is "ending" or "final" when our new baby arrives, I can't help but admit that there is a bittersweet feeling to the fact that it will not longer be just me and Cullen all day long. We have gotten into a great rhythm and our weeks are usually pretty seamless. I am so grateful for the many hours of puzzles, stories, and snuggles I get with him, and I'm nervous about how all of that will change. I know we'll figure it out as these changes come, but for now I'm reading that one extra book and making our hugs last just a little bit longer.