For those of you who know me…please don’t panic..this is not another baby announcement. I already have my hands full with my boys. Actually I am writing this because I happened to have conversations with two different friends today on how to prepare for a new baby in the house..more specifically how to prepare for a new sibling.
Actually, I had a really simple time doing this. Maybe i was just plain lucky or maybe some of the stuff we did and talked about with the kids helped. My twins boys were all of 20 months when our younger son was born and from the first day on all I saw was lots of love and care. Sure they fought for attention every now and then…of course they were boisterous and noisy at times around the baby…but no pinches, no hitting, no pushing. They made sure everyone around them knew they had a baby brother…they chose his name and and clothes for him…they tried to give him their toys and they made sure no one came to pick him up without sanitising their hands first. Honestly i could not have asked for anything more.
Here are some things that helped us make this a fairly easy transition for the boys and the whole family. For one, we started talking about the baby once I was about 6 months pregnant. I started looking pregnant and alos started to tire out more easily. The twins who were less than a year and half then loved to jump on me and horse around and some of that was about to change. It really helped that a good friend of ours who has a daughter their age had just given birth to a baby boy. The boys loved going over to see the baby and were most fascinated by the whole thing. So when I told them that we were going to have a baby too, they actually seemed excited. I don’t think that at that point they realized it meant that they would be sharing me and Dad with this new creature.
Every evening as we lay down and read our books before bed the boys wold take turns touching my belly, talking nonsense to the baby, singing songs and more often than not, making funny farting sounds with their mouths on my very large tummy!
We made a list of girls and boys names and had them pick the ones they liked. They only chose a boy’s name as they said it was definitely going to be a baby brother. We started picking up a few small things together and every time we got the baby something we made sure to get something small for the twins as well.
My boys all love books and so I figured that would be a good way to talk to them about the baby. Here are some that we read:
1. Will you Still Love Me by Jean-Baptiste Baronian, Illustrated by Noris Kern.
This is an extremely delightful and touching book that articulates in the simplest of manners the fears and worries that a child might have about a new sibling arriving into his/her life. The most basic question on all captured perfectly in the title of the book : Will you still love me.
A story about a little polar bear who feels that his parents are behaving slightly differently. He talks to his friends about it and finally talks to his mother who tells him that she is pregnant. And my children’s favorite lines from the book: A mommy’s heart is as big as the sea. And a daddy’s heart is as big as the sky. I will always love you. Even when you are a big brother, you’ll still be my little one. And I’ll love both you and our new baby with all my heart”
2. My New Baby illustrated by Rachel Fuller
Another extremely simple book with lovely illustrations. The book is very different in style and approach from the first one I have put down but it beautifully juxtaposes what the older sibling and baby are doing and able to do. It shows acceptance, sharing and how in spite of the new baby the parents are still there for the older sibling.
3. Peter’s Chair by Ezra Jack Keats
Written by Caldecott award winner Ezra Jack Keats (For Snowy Day) Peter’s chair beautifully captures some of the struggles an older sibling goes through. This is a story about a boy called Peter who has a younger baby sister. His parents are trying to reuse a lot of Peter’s old toys and things for the new baby and Peter resents that. He does not like his crib being repainted or his stuff given away to her. He takes his favorite little chair and hides with it…that’s when he realizes that the chair is actually too small for him. This is the story of a young boy trying to deal with the struggle of having a baby sister and accepting her and sharing with her. Peter is someone my kids could related to very easily. The illustrations are stunning too and Keats use of collage with cutouts is simple yet beautiful!
4. I also put together a simple story book for the boys. (http://myfourboysandme.wordpress.com/2013/04/16/book-for-introducing-a-new-sibling/) You can check it out on my earlier blogpost if you like. The twins absolutely loved it and we read it many many many times!
Once the baby came, I tried as much as possible to involve the twins. They got me diapers, sang songs to the baby, picked out his clothes for him and chose his name. They called me when he woke up, they checked to see if his diaper was full. They climbed into the baby cot and cuddled with him right from the time he was 3 days old. I bit back the NO on my lips as much as I could and just made sure they did not hurt the baby accidentally.
Of course things are different with each child and this post is in no way prescriptive. I have simply put down some of the things that worked for me and I hope this is useful to some of you out there :)