Thursday, May 30, 2013

Getting Ready for a Sibling

One of the things that makes this pregnancy so very different from the last is that we need to think about how we're involving Sprout in it. I want to do everything I reasonably can to prepare him for his baby sister, in the hopes of avoiding some of the difficulties with adjusting to being one of two kids. Because I've been pretty busy (as you may have noticed from how many posts are appearing here on the Sprog) I haven't had time to read any books or really spend too much time thinking about it.

Yesterday I spent a little time thinking about what we've done so far & brainstorming what additional things we could do to help get Sprout ready to be a big brother.

So far we have:
  • regularly talked about the pregnancy & birth in a way we think he can understand
  • brought him to the 20-week ultrasound
  • got him to phone his Nana to tell her the gender: "Hi Nana! I'm gonna have a sister!"
  • encouraged him to sing to or talk to his sister
  • got him a new adjustable chair so the booster/high chair is free for the baby
We're planning to:
  • buy/find some library books about having a baby sibling (mainly for Sprout, maybe one or two for me too)
  • talk to him in advance about what to expect when I have the baby (we're planning a hospital birth & he'll stay home)
  • get him to make or choose a gift for his sister
Just as I started my list of what we still need to do, I realized how many of you have already been through this yourself & might have some suggestions for me. What did you do to prepare your older child for the arrival of their sibling? Can you recommend any books on the topic that you liked--either for yourself or for your child? Or even if you haven't got 2+ kids, have you heard of any great ideas that worked for people you know? Please pass on your wisdom in the comments below! :)

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  1. My boss bought a book for Jonah that is wonderful. He still loves it (4 years later). It's a bit more geared for multiple births, but still. It's called Little Rabbit's Baby by Harry Horse. Little Rabbit's Mama is having a baby, he goes to the hospital with his Papa to meet the baby..finds out it is 3 babies. Papa has to sit down and the nurse has to bring him a cup of tea (one of Jonah's favourite parts). Then little rabbit is very proud...very jealous..not always understanding how to treat babies etc. It runs through all the emotions, but ends with the little ones following him around everywhere as they get older. I think it explains to little people a bit of what they can expect from baby sisters and brothers. ie. they won't be able to play with your toys right away..they won't be able to eat real food...they need more sleep etc.
    Jonah and I went shopping quite early in my pregnancy and bought the girls' first sleepers too-the ones they came home from the hospital in. He liked to be included in as much as possible.
    But it was still very very hard on him. Luckily (for all of us), he no longer remembers being an only child-he can't remember life before his sisters, so he doesn't remember being the centre of everything.
    I would assume it will be easier on Linnaeus because he will only have 1 sibling, and the amount of attention paid to a singleton is far less (unfortunately) than that to twins. And you will be way more mobile after baby is born, so you won't be as housebound as we were.

    1. Thanks! I'll look for that book. It sounds like it's got a lot of elements I'm looking for. Hopefully it won't confuse him into thinking we might come home with three babies... ;) The shopping for new clothes for his sister would probably a good idea. He's not too interested in clothes, but he'd probably like to help me anyway. I'm just waiting to inventory the loads of hand-me-downs that are coming to see if there's anything I want to buy... ;)

      & yes, I'm hoping for a similar birth experience to last time, where we were out & about in a day or two. As long as she gets herself head down in a few weeks, we'll probably be good. Currently, she flips around A LOT--often sideways at night, often feet down during the day.

  2. We haven't really done a lot to prepare Tycho for his new sibling, even though the birth is only a week or so away. He does point to Mom's belly and he calls it "baby", but I don't know how much he actually grasps what is happening. He does call actual babies "baby" too, and he has seen some videos of births.

    However, since his communication is still limited, there is not a lot we can do to mentally prepare him. While he used to find Mommy's belly funny and interesting, he seems a little scared by it now.

    Typical exchange: "Tycho, do you want to say 'hi' to your brother?" / "No! NO! NO! No!" (runs away).

    Regardless of any preparations we can do, his life will change quite a bit after the birth. Luckily, children that age can be incredibly adaptable, and Tycho, for the most part, is not a very needy boy. Still, with him turning two next week, we will have to fit in toilet training and getting him to sleep in his new bed on top of taking care of a newborn.

    I will let you know in a year how it turned out. :-)

    1. I'm sure Tycho understands far more than he can say--I think it's still worth talking about the baby & how things might be different. :) Planning a home birth, there's no separation to prepare for at least. We've got to get Sprout used to the idea that someone will come to take care of him for a day or so while we go to the hospital. Tycho will be fine--he's a pretty easygoing kid. :)

    2. Even though we are doing a home birth, Tycho won't be in the room with us. Shannondell's mother is staying with us right now, so she will stay with Tycho down in the basement while the birth is happening. We are assuming that the birth will be as quick or quicker than Tycho's, so he shouldn't have to be separated for too long.

      I've spoken with Tycho a lot about how he is going to have a younger brother. One interesting thing is that he now points to the cast taken of Shannondell when she was pregnant with him and says "Baby!". However, if I ever refer to the cast as "Tycho!", he says "No! NO! NO! No!". :-)

      On a side note (I may have mentioned this already): I was almost 5 years old when my sister was born. Even though I have a lot of memories of Mom in the hospital and seeing the new baby, I have absolutely no clear recollection of her being pregnant. It just seemed like suddenly I had a sister and was sharing a room with a baby. This is in spite of my memory of my early childhood being quite good i.e. I can remember a lot of when I was four, just not my mom's pregnancy. I also don't recall any jealousy of my sister. In fact, I loved having a baby around (my parents verify this), and I really enjoyed being an older brother. However, I was older than Tycho, so it isn't really a good comparison. All I know is that Tycho probably will have no memory of being an only child, and he will resent having to "share" a birthday with his brother. :-)


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