So, with the due date now just a few weeks away, we are getting the final preparations ready for our new arrival. The car seat has come down from the loft, the hospital bags are packed, clothes have been washed and we have a supply of tiny nappies. Now that maternity leave has started, I have no doubt I will soon be emptying kitchen cupboards and wiping down skirting boards as the nesting instinct goes into overdrive!
But this pregnancy has been very different to the first. It’s an obvious thing to say but having a toddler already has meant that we haven’t really had the same time or headspace to sit and think too much about the arrival of our next child. Going from no children to one is such a massive lifestyle change and as we did this two years ago, I’m hoping that baby number two will slot in easily to our established kid-friendly lifestyle (see future blog posts for the reality of this…)
But whilst my husband and I have a rough idea of what to expect, I have to keep reminding myself that for my daughter this will be a huge life change and she hasn’t been through this before. At nearly two, she has a very clear understanding of what’s going on around her and she definitely knows her baby sister is coming.
I wanted to share with you some advice we have gleaned from friends, family and the good old internet for preparing your little one for meeting their sibling…
- Talk about the new baby – if you’re anything like most second time mums, you will likely have started showing pretty early in the pregnancy. As bump gets bigger and your lap space shrinks in size, now is a good time to tell your eldest that there is a baby in mummy’s tummy. A bit of a confusing thought, but toddlers seem to be quite accepting creatures and you may find you are having to explain that there isn’t a baby in their tummy or Grandad’s either!
- Books – there are lots of books available that help you teach your child about what a new baby is like and how to look after them. I think the picture ones work best and it’s good to have them mixed in with other favourites so they can be regularly looked at.
- Dolls – OK so I am not a big fan of dolls. They are scarily life like and their eyes freak me out a bit. I was going to try and avoid this option but my daughter started playing with them at the childminder’s and she seems to enjoy the more practical side of baby care which can’t be a bad thing. So Father Christmas bought her a doll complete with its own changing bag and bottles. It’s not the favourite toy in our house but from time to time I do find her giving the baby some milk which is very sweet to see.
- Interact with other babies – once you’ve had one child, you will find yourself in a world of newborns and buggies. So take any opportunity you can to introduce your child to friend’s babies and show them what its like to see mummy holding a baby. This experiment doesn’t always work (cue tears and climbing on to your lap) but if done frequently it can help them adjust.
- Involve your child – as you start to make preparations around the house and the moses basket appears alongside a number of other baby equipment items, talk to your child and explain what everything is. Have fun with it and maybe even get your child to help you pack the hospital bag.
- Presents – one tip I heard long ago was to make sure that your older children are given gifts from their new sibling. We’re planning on having our daughter give a small gift to her sister and then to have a present for her sister to “give” to her. We’ve opted for a couple of soft bunny rabbit toys, which we know she will love.
- Make your eldest responsible for telling you when the new baby needs a cuddle – this is a new one that a friend told me last week. Tell your eldest that they must tell you when new baby needs a cuddle. Apparently children won’t leave their sibling crying for long and its a great way of making them feel involved and part of it all. I will be putting this to the test and will report back…
Do you have any top tips for getting ready for a new addition? What worked for you, or didn’t? It would be great to hear your advice.