The idea of having a second baby is lovely. Until it sinks in and you realise your ‘baby’ won’t be the baby anymore. For me, when I found out I was expecting my second daughter it felt like the closer it got to her arrival the more I realised my eldest still needed me. Now obviously hormones played a big part in that, my daughters are 22 months apart.
Having fallen pregnant when my daughter was 14 months old I wasn’t sure if she would understand what was happening. I read like every blog and forum I could find, and they all said the same thing… They won’t know anything is happening.
This was not the case at all, right from the beginning. I only did a pregnancy test because she randomly lifted my top and said ‘hello’. The whole time I was laughing thinking no way am I pregnant, it didn’t really sink in till my scan. From there I knew I had to try my upmost to prepare her for a sibling.
There really are ways that you can prepare a toddler as young as 1 for the arrival of a new baby.
Talk to them.
Explain that there is a baby in your belly. When they lay on you talk about the fact there is a baby in there and they have to be careful or gentle with mommy. Keeping the fact that you are sick/tired/rundown due to pregnancy away from them is also important.
Give them a scan picture.
I gave my daughter a copy of all of my scan pictures, and she would tell my family it’s a picture of the baby. It keeps them involved before you are showing.
Pregnancy is a family experience.
Although you are the one carrying the baby, pregnancy affects everyone in your home. Instead of phrases like ‘I’m having a baby’ try ‘your brother/sister is in mommy’s belly’. My daughter was attached to my bump and by the end of my pregnancy she knew just who was in there. So much so upon meeting her sister I snuck into the house and put the baby in the Moses basket. Called her from another room, letting her know I was home and I was okay. She barged past me, ran up to the Moses basket that she had been pre-warned is the baby’s bed when we bought it. And said ‘Hi sisi’ (short for Sienna), I didn’t even get a chance to say here’s the baby or this is Sienna, she just knew because she was along for the whole ride.
Let them help.
When you are sorting through their old toys and clothes, (especially if you are re using anything) let them help. Have a separate pile or drawer for the baby’s things and let them add to it so they better understand and feel like they are choosing to gift them to the baby. Taking them to buy a small gift or pick a teddy to give to the new baby is also a great idea.
Coming home to my daughter who I hadn’t seen for 3 days was so intriguing, I had left her being my baby. When I got home she seemed so big (no she didn’t grow any quicker) but all of my worries about having two babies disappeared. Because in front of me was a big sister who was so protective of her new sibling and ready to embrace her new role.
Preparation is so important, the same way we try and prepare for parenthood when expecting our first it is vital to prepare your child for the massive change that is about to come.