My son was just 6 weeks away from his second birthday when he became a big brother. We had a homebirth with our second and she was born at 9:29 pm while our son was sleeping, totally oblivious to what was going on in the other room. He woke up around 7 am and went downstairs as usual. But this time-surprise!-Mimi and Pawpaw were in the living room! He was ecstatic! I was in the bedroom with our newborn daughter and could hear his shrieks of laughter. I decided to come downstairs and introduce him to his baby sister. I stood at the top of the stairs and waited for him to notice me. It only took a few seconds before he saw me and shouted “Mama!” With a huge smile on his face. A smile which instantly left when he saw what I was holding. You could see the different emotions running across his face, with shock and confusion being the strongest. We introduced him to his baby sister and told him she came while he was sleeping. He was still confused by it all so I gave him my iPad to play with as a way to lessen the blow. He immediately went to the Toy Story app and played the song Strange Things three times in a row! He just sat there with a look of bewilderment while the adults in the room tried not to laugh out loud 🙂 About 10 minutes later he was ready to meet his sister, and now, two years later I can honestly say they are the best of friends.
He was 14 months old when we found out we were expecting again, and we decided not to find out the gender, so it was really hard to explain any of it to him. Other than buying him a Big Brother book and letting him touch my belly, there was no way to really prepare him. We couldn’t even call the baby by name as we didn’t know what we were having. Instead, I had to find ways to make the transition as smooth as possible after she was born.
- Don’t blame the baby.
I purposed in my heart not to blame Jana for why I couldn’t do something with Gunnar. I didn’t want him to constantly be hearing phrases such as “Not now, I’m feeding the baby” or “I can’t play I need to hold Jana.” Of course, there were plenty of times when he had to wait, but I tried to phrase it in a way that wouldn’t leave him feeling resentment towards having a baby in the house. “Let’s read a book while I feed Jana, then we can play with blocks.”
2. Get them involved
Involve your toddler or preschooler by asking them to help out with the baby. Let them help pick out an outfit for the baby, bring you a diaper, or simply teach the baby pat-a-cake. Welcome hugs and kisses to the baby, but don’t force it. Let your child “introduce” the baby when you’re out running errands. Making your child feel a sense of importance and responsibility will make them feel important and independent-something every toddler desires 🙂
3. Put baby down
I know sleepy newborn cuddles are amazing, but it’s ok to let the baby sleep in a swing or crib so that you can spend some quality one-on-one time with your toddler. Ask a family member or friend to watch the baby for an hour so you can plan a special outing with your older child. You will both cherish those moments of playing and being together!
4. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
The first 3 months of a baby’s life is a transition all its own, and when you add other children in the mix it becomes full-blown survival mode. Embrace it. Eventually life will settle down and you’ll find a new normal and get a routine in place. Until then, there’s nothing wrong with pajama days, peanut butter and jelly for dinner, or binge watching Curious George on Netflix.