Prep Your Child For A Sibling With These Simple Ideas
Getting ready for your first baby is incredibly stressful because everything must be perfect. The nursery was the center of your focus, as this is where it all was going to happen. So you spent hours going through Pinterest to find the right inspiration and DIY tricks for your new baby’s room. After you’ve created the perfect environment for your little one, you then thought of all the extra things you needed to buy. Diapers, wipes and clothing were at the top of your list. This was what you thought about every minute of every day.
At least that was my experience with my first daughter, Ryann. She was my world for three years until we found out I was expecting my second child, Raegan. From the beginning this pregnancy felt a little different. The first time around I was completely focused on the arrival of my new baby. This time, however, my baby was now a toddler and needed a ton of attention, too.
Being blessed with a beautiful toddler, having growing responsibilities at work, and still exhausted from the pregnancy, I found it difficult to prep as early as we had done with Ryann. It was about seven months into the pregnancy that I realized we still didn't have a nursery or anything organized for Raegan's big day. I immediately got stressed, but soon realized that this was the perfect opportunity to involve my 3-year-old into the nesting process. I realized my husband and I were not the only ones that needed to get ready, but Ryann needed to emotionally prepare as well. It was our jobs to make this transition from being the only child to one of two as seamless as possible. Here are some of the things I did that were successful.
First, I read to her. I was given the book "I'm a Big Sister" at my baby shower. We would read it a couple of times a week. This was an opportunity to naturally talk to her about all the great things about being a sister, as well as what to expect with a new baby in the house. One part of the book talked about why babies cry, and it mentioned all of the reasons it could be. She still refers to that book when Raegan cries saying, "Mommy I think Raegan is hungry."
Second, I got her involved with preparing for baby. My husband and I decided to incorporate Ryann in our own special way. I decided I wanted to have Ryann make something special that could go in Raegan's room. I had an old bench that I painted white, and Ryann got to pick out all of the colors of paint and glitter she wanted to decorate for the top of the bench. This is now something they sit on together each morning.
My husband was in charge of repainting the nursery. One day I came home and found Ryann with paint all over her body. She was so excited to show me the work she had done for baby Raegan.
Third, I had Ryann pick out Raegan’s new arrival outfit. This helped get her involved in preparing for the big day. She took an hour going through all the clothes because she had to find just the right thing. Ryann gave this as a gift to Raegan the day she was born. To this day she still talks about the trip to pick out her sister's clothing.
Lastly, make your first child feel special. The past nine months has been about preparing for the new baby, so now make it about them. My husband and I made sure that a couple days before I gave birth that we took Ryann on a family date to see the dolphins. This was a way for us to spend quality time and focus on her. After all, it was one of the last times we’d be a family of three.
Then the day before Raegan arrived, my mother took Ryann shopping for her own special outfit that she could wear to see baby for the first time, almost like a birthday party. She looked beautiful and she felt special as well. I suggest you, too, find something that will make your child feel special the day their world forever changes.
My biggest fear was that Ryann was not going to adapt to having a new person in the family. Fortunately, it’s been quite the opposite. It could be based on the personality she was born with, but also I think we might have had a hand in it as well. I believe our focus on making sure she never felt forgotten and was always a part of Raegan's life before and after she was born affected the way their relationship is today. She prides herself on being the best big sister. She makes sure that Raegan is loved and protected. My big girl. I am so proud.