17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

How did you introduce No. 2?

Wow, I haven't posted in a long time. Life has been crazy and it seems hard to take a minute (or more) to sit down and blog. I have posts I'm working up in the back of my head, but can never quite get them on the screen. Anyway, here I am with a quick question. My little guy, T, is about to turn two and baby #2 is due in May. I'll call her baby girl. So those of you out there who have more than one child or have been around family & friends with more than one child, how exactly did you begin to introduce the idea that No. 2 was arriving soon?

T will be about two years and three months old when baby girl gets here. Needless to say he is kinda clueless right now as to how much his life is about to change. DH and I haven't done much to prepare him yet because he still seems so little to me and the idea that "there is a baby in mommy's tummy" is so abstract and obviously difficult for a toddler to wrap his brain around. I've mentioned it a few times but that's about it. I know, though, that T is smart and his brain definitely takes in more than I realize, especially as he nears 2 1/2. Down the road as the due date gets closer and we are buying clothes and setting up the baby swing or bassinet it will give me an opportunity to talk about baby girl in a way that is a little more visual. So what tactics did you use to introduce the next child when your little one was still, well, pretty little? Books about being a "big sibling" - any recommendations? Cold turkey? Chats during family home evening? At target while buying new baby clothes? Pointing out other babies at the park? What worked or what didn't? As usual I come to the blog for some expert parenting tips :)


  • My kids are 26 months apart so almost exactly what yours are. We just started talking to him about it as soon as we found out we were pregnant. We've only got the two now. He learned that there was a baby in my belly and how not everyone has babies in their bellies. When the baby was born we kept talking to him about things. Brought him to the hospital but he wasn't really interested. He did warm up over time but I think the key was talking about it. Good luck!
    posted by Blogger Angela at 1/27/2008 04:11:00 PM  

  • I was just thinking we need a book list of new baby books.

    My favorite is called BABY ON BOARD by Kes Gray and Sarah Nayler and just the other day I saw one that looked interesting:
    Ma! There's nothing to do here by Barbara Park.

    I think books are a really great way to introduce the concept. I still remember reading the Bernstein Bears one as a kid.

    As for the rest, I think exposing him to babies is the best idea. Whenever you have the chance, you should introduce him to a small baby and teach him about being gentle and talk about his size and how the baby is smaller than him....show him big brother's with their baby sister etc.

    No matter what there will be a transition period....but it will all be ok in th end.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/27/2008 04:12:00 PM  

  • my boys are almost 3 years apart. we just started talking to the oldest about the baby in my tummy, had him feel kicks, even took him to a few doctors appointments so he could hear the heart beat. i also would talk to him about being a big brother, sharing, being nice, etc. i don't know how much sunk in but it made me feel better.
    i took him to the store to pick out a toy for the baby. the baby in turn got a toy for brother to give when he came to visit at the hospital.
    i also gave brother "jobs" when the baby got here. i.e. getting the diapers and wipes. it is definitely something a 2 year old could do as well.
    i've noticed that the more i say no to the big brother, the more fistey he gets. he really is pretty gentle with the baby (4 months) if i don't freak out and just give him a chance.
    congratulations and good luck!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/27/2008 05:28:00 PM  

  • Our daughter was the same age (2 years 3 months) when her little brother was born. We had talked to her about the new baby before he was born but she was still a little clueless until the baby actually came home and was part of our everyday lives. As soon as that happened, her favorite book became "I'm a Big Sister" by Joanna Cole (there's also an "I'm a Big Brother" version). She asked us to read this to her every day, multiple times a day, for about the first 2 weeks. It really helped her understand this new little person and what her relationship to him was.
    posted by Blogger mj at 1/27/2008 05:46:00 PM  

  • My boy will be 19 months when #2 comes along. I've decided there's no way to prepare a toddler that young. They don't understand the future anyway - everything is right now or never. He will meet his little brother at the hospital.

    I actually think that's kind of an advantage. My niece was 4 when my sister's #2 was born. Everyone kept saying, "aren't you so excited to be a big sister!" People would not shut up talking to her about being a big sister. The truth was, she was terrified that mom wouldn't be her mommy anymore. She cried and got scared whenever people asked her about being a big sister. Her parents tried talking to her, involving her in prep, everything. Once #2 was actually in the home, she adjusted fine to the new baby, and even liked him.

    My conclusion is there isn't much point in preparing a toddler. It's pretty abstract for them. Just make sure you keep them cuddled and loved when #2 moves in, and they'll adjust pretty all right.

    We'll see if it works in a few months when I bring home #2.
    posted by Blogger Melinda at 1/27/2008 06:00:00 PM  

  • When I was pregnant with #2 all my #1 ever heard about was #2. People always asked if she was excited to be a big sister, etc, etc. I wished people would find something else to talk to her about. So, I guess my advice is to make mention of #2 arriving soon, but don't make T's whole identity all about being a big brother.
    posted by Blogger Ash at 1/27/2008 06:22:00 PM  

  • We love the book Hello Baby by Lizzy Rockwell. It's a great book that covers a little boy's perspective on having a new sibling. It goes over the Dr's appointments, how the baby grows, mom nursing, dad bathing, how the older sibling can comfort the baby and so on.

    We talked and talked about the baby, but I just don't think he understood until after the baby came. Number 1 did love the present that the baby 'got' for him.
    posted by Blogger Azúcar at 1/27/2008 09:52:00 PM  

  • Beth, I think just talking about the new baby as and when it comes up, like picking out an outfit at Target etc. Kate didn't seem to get jealous at first, the new baby doesn't really do anything and pose a treat, its when they get to be a few months old and require more attention but it all seems to smooth itself out, I tried to let Kate be as involved as she wanted, she'd like to hold her little sis and when she ate rice cereal she wanted to feed her and I let her under close supervision, she did quite well. She also wanted to eat rice cereal herself so I just said 'O.K.' and she tasted it and realised it wasn't that great. He'll meet his new sis soon enough, just enjoy the rest of the time you have with JUST him for now. We should hang out sometime, I've missed all of you girls from SC.
    posted by Blogger English Garden at 1/27/2008 10:15:00 PM  

  • My older one was not quite 18mo when the second was born. I didn't stress too much over how to introduce the concept, because I figured he wouldn't really get it until the baby was there anyway. If he ever pointed to my tummy, I'd say "There's a baby in there. You're going to have a baby brother." He was interested in babies, so when we saw one at church or whereever, I'd say things like "Yes, that's a baby. You're going to have a baby brother. You have to be gentle with the baby." I have no clue how much he understood, but at least the concept was introduced.

    I'm actually doing the same things this time around. The older one just turned 3, but he has autism, so it's hard for me to judge how much he understands sometimes, and the second is 18mo. I just try to make sure I tell them that they're going to have a baby brother when the subject comes up (when they point at my tummy, when we see other babies, if they say "baby").

    I don't think you have to worry too much. We had a really bad week when #2 came, but other than that it's been fine. (And it actually wasn't when the baby first got there -- it was a couple of weeks later when dad started his new job and grandma left, and it was just mom and the two kids. The older one didn't like sharing the attention, but we made it through.)

    One suggestion I have is to get a baby doll for your son. When #2 came #1 was very interested in him, and wanted to touch him a lot, especially his face. He was just exploring and trying to figure things out, but I still couldn't let him poke the baby's eyes. We were at a friend's house and he started doing the same things to a baby doll they had, so I got him his own baby doll that he could touch and explore (and leave his brother's face alone).
    posted by Anonymous Vada at 1/28/2008 11:27:00 AM  

  • Vada's comment reminded me of my nephew when his new baby sister came home. I was tending them, and nephew kept coming up and jabbing the baby in the stomach. I finally snapped at him to cut it out. He got very sad, and explained, "I just want to touch her!" So I demonstrated how to gently pat or rub her hair.

    Several years later, I brought my first baby over. Nephew walked up, and rubbed the baby's head, just like I'd taught him with his new baby sister nearly 3 years ago. It was pretty cute.
    posted by Blogger Melinda at 1/28/2008 07:23:00 PM  

  • I'm not sure if this book has already been mentioned, but we really liked the book "I'm a Big Sister" by Joanna Cole and Maxie Chambliss. They have one called "I'm a Big Brother" too. I got mine at Costco and my older daughter loved it. I think the illustrations were really nice and they explained how things were going to change really well with a very positive message.
    posted by Anonymous MKC at 1/29/2008 01:45:00 PM  

  • I really love the book suggestions. When it gets a little closer I think I'll pick up one or two of those. I looked at the one that Azucar mentioned on-line. I really like the idea of the illustrations, like mom feeding the baby, etc. Something he's not used to seeing everyday (yet!). Also, the baby doll idea is good too. T is a very gentle, cautious child so I tend not to worry about him being too rough. But you can never be sure... especially as he gets older.

    English Garden - I totally agree! I'm trying to enjoy my time one-on-one with T while I have it, (despite pregnancy exhaustion and nausea - STILL!). It's a special time right now and I want to focus on that. Thanks for all the good tips and stories!
    posted by Blogger Beth at 1/29/2008 02:39:00 PM  

  • having never had a new baby to introduce, I haven't done the Joanna Cole "I'm A Big Brother" book, but I loved the potty training book they did in the same series, and so did Max. We read it quite a bit, and I thought it was sweet and informative. So I'd recommend any book in that series.
    posted by Blogger marian at 1/30/2008 05:46:00 AM  

  • I'm just adding that I recently got this book for DS and I think it is so great and perfect for a younger child. And you gotta love the price.
    posted by Blogger beth at 4/11/2008 09:18:00 PM  

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