I’ve asked a couple mum friends who have toddlers a similar age to my daughter and who are expecting their second baby if they think their kids are excited about being older siblings. They’ve told me they don’t think their toddlers really know what is going on but I would completely disagree! I think that you can prepare a toddler by making the new baby part of the new norm. However, as the baby is not here yet, I am fully prepared to eat my words!
Myself and my partner have included Imogen in almost everything baby related from relatively early on. In hindsight this was risky in case something didn’t go right with this pregnancy, so I think we should have introduced her to the idea of a baby a bit later on just in case. My daughter came to the first scan of her brother, she’s come with me to some of my midwife appointments and heard her brother’s heartbeat. We talk to her about her brother all the time and let her know he is looking forward to meeting her. We tell her what a great and important responsibility being a big sister is and she seems so excited. She often comes over to me to put her hand on my tummy to see if she can feel him kick or sings nursery rhymes to him.
When I was younger I wasn’t really ready for my sister to come along. It felt like a bolt out of the blue and when I should have been excited, I was completely confused! My younger sister and I laugh about this now, but I really didn’t take the news well as a youngster, I was very jealous. So I think this is why I’ve tried to make sure my daughter is prepared, if that is possible with a toddler! I’m fully prepared that she will still be filled with jealousy and worry when the baby arrives, but I just want to do what I can to make it easier for her and if I’m wrong then it was worth trying!
There are great lists online of books to read to a toddler/pre-schooler to help prepare them for a sibling. I picked two books: ‘You Were the First’ and ‘Big Sis, Little Miss’. What attracted me to ‘You Were the First’ was that the story talks about how the eldest child is special because he/she was the first child that the parents saw do all of these amazing things. The book tries to reassure an elder child that they are not valued less just because another child is coming along, it doesn’t change how much they mean to their parents. It’s so important to me that she feels as celebrated as the baby when he arrives.
‘Big Sis, Little Miss’ is a book all about the important job of becoming a big sister and how much the younger sibling will look up to them for guidance and will want to play with them.
I was browsing online and found dolls that have a removable tummy and a baby inside. Yes they are a bit creepy, but I thought this would be a great big sister gift for my little girl from her brother. The set I got had a Dad and young girl in as well, which I thought reflected the size of our family, but obviously every family is different and there are dolls sold on their own which have the removable tummy. We have also been playing with baby dolls, pretending to feed them, wash them etc. and I have been dropping in the odd “you can help mummy and daddy do this with your brother.”
I’ve been taking my daughter to shops that sell baby items and have been talking her through what the different items are, which is a great opportunity for her to ask questions, like “what is this and what does this do?” She picked out a cot, a pushchair and a drinks beaker, (all of which we didn’t get), but I told her how thoughtful she was. It was nice to see that she was considering what her little brother would like. She has ‘bought’ him a couple toys and helped me to pick out some clothes too.
We have yet to decorate and sort out the baby’s nursery, but I have asked Imogen if she can help mummy and daddy to make the room look nice and welcoming for her brother and I told her we will also be getting some nice things for her room too and rearrange the furniture a bit.
Family members have asked if we want them to take Imogen out when the baby is born, which is a lovely idea and of course we will need to ask someone to help us to look after her at that time, but I don’t want her to feel she isn’t included. I would like to make her feel special, so if anyone has any ideas from their own experiences please share them!