Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Looking for Advice: Prepping Em for a Little Brother…

I’m a little concerned.
Emmy has been the sun, the moon and the stars of our family for the past 20 months. Our family time has been primarily focused on her needs, and giving her plenty of love and attention.
The new baby’s arrival is going to bring change. Our family dynamic is going to change. As much as I would like to tell myself that even when the baby arrives, I will be able to provide Em with the same amount of love and attention as I am able to today, I know that is not really true. I know that time and attention will need to be shared, and that Emmy will see and feel the difference.
I have tried explaining to Em that I have a baby growing inside me. On a few occasions, Emmy has kissed my belly, as if acknowledging the baby’s presence. On other occasions, Emmy has pulled my shirt back down over my belly and said “Bye bye, Baby!”
Mmmm… this is going to be tough.
I want to prepare Emmy for being a big sister. I have read and researched what other parents have done. They have read books about babies with their toddlers in the months leading up to the baby’s arrival. They have bought their toddlers baby dolls and played “family” to help the toddler get acquainted with a baby’s needs.  They have involved their toddlers in preparing the baby’s room and belongings, so they start understanding that change is on the horizon.
This all makes sense, of course.
But Emmy hardly ever sits through an entire book.
 And while she likes putting her baby doll to bed, she also REALLY seems to like throwing her doll on the ground for amusement.
And I have no idea yet as to what we are going to do with the baby room to make it “ready” for our little monkey (except that in an ideal world, I would love to create a giant wall hanging for the nursery, with a tree and sunshine and birds with pretty beaded eyes and lots of little flowers on the ground… ah, if only there were 4 more hours in a day that I could dedicate to this project).
I know I have plenty of time to prepare Em for what is coming. I know that once my belly really starts popping out, and the baby starts moving and kicking, it will be easier for me to talk to Emmy about her little brother. I know that by the time the baby arrives, Emmy might have the patience to sit through an entire book about becoming an older sister, and she might better understand why it is not so great to throw the baby doll on the ground. And maybe in the coming months I will even have a better plan for the baby room, and can involve Em in the preparations.
But I am wondering how others have dealt with this kind of experience. Did you spend much time prepping your first born for the arrival of a sibling? Did they respond well? How did your child react when you brought the new baby home? How have you and your family adjusted to a new dynamic? Any suggestions on how we can help Em prepare?


  1. You sketch it on paper, I'll make it happen on the wall. Seriously, I have a billion hours of set painting to put to good use somehow.

    When do we start?

    Introduce her to the words "brother" and "sister" and point out other friends of hers, cousins, people she knows that have a brother or are a big sister. What did Arielle do?

    I vaguely recall my parents doing that to prepare for MJs arrival and I only wanted to send him back for a little bit.

    1. Well, it's good to know that you didn't put your brother in a box and try to ship him somewhere. Comforting, somehow. :)Especially knowing how much you absolutely adore him these days.

      Arielle squeezed my head, saying "I love you sooooooo much," but it was, in my parents' recollection, a kind of nervous/angry proclomation of love.

      Thanks for offering to help with the wall. Ideally, I would like to sew this project (which, if I get started, I would be more than happy to have you help out with)!


  2. The biggest thing you can do is to stop treating her like she's the center of the universe. That doesn't mean love her less or make her feel less important. Just that everything doesn't revolve around her and her wishes. She's still very young and I don't think you have to worry about her hurting the baby or anything like that. But she'll need to be patient and know that if you are feeding him, you're not going to stop & run to her because she wants you to (unless there's an emergency). She has to share you now. Getting Dad involved is key. If you always do bath/bedtime, have Dad start doing it. If she needs you to rock her to sleep, think about how that'll be when you have a baby to feed... Start building her independence and confidence now. Highlight all the big girl things she can do with you that the baby can't, but stress that she needs to be a big girl to do them.

    Don't stress over it! You have plenty of time. Kids pick up on your emotions better than your words... If you go into it knowing that everything will be okay, she'll be okay. It's not easy going from 1-2, but as long as you stay confident that you are in charge and you can do it, it's the most awesome thing ever (until you have 4 & that's the most awesome...).

    1. Thank you for responding! I think you are correct in what you said. We have started to teach Emmy about patience, and not always getting her way (i.e., Mama is busy, so she can't pick you up right now, even if it means you are going to sit and cry...)
      I have also heard from many other parents that getting Dad more involved is very helpful in the transition. C is real good about spending time with Em and playing with her, but I think we do have to start making him more responsible for the Emmy-related chores/rituals, such as feedings and dressing, etc.
      And believe me, we use the words "big girl" ALL THE TIME to encourage her development and new abilities. :)
      I really appreciate the pep talk. I will try to just remain calm and think positively about the whole thing, and hope that that will radiate outward and influence Em's feelings about the transition.

      Much thanks,

  3. One more thing. Whenever we have a new baby we always get a gift for the older sibling. When my 3rd was born my 2nd was only 2 (turned 2 just two weeks prior!) and she had very much been the center even though she was the 2nd born because of all the surgeries she had and all the worry, yadda yadda yadda. I gave her some baby doll accessories when #3 was born--stroller, pack n play, and she could take care of her doll while I took care of my baby.

    Also helps to give her a special job. She's too young to do a lot, but she could be the one to throw out the diapers or to bring you water when you're feeding the baby. Something to make her feel like she's an important part of taking care of him too.

    It'll all be good! (I am by no means an expert and have spent many days crying when it all goes to crap, so don't think that I'm some know it all, but as long as we have more good days than bad days, I'm happy).

    1. Many many thanks. I think a gift for Em is a great idea. And she is starting to enjoy big girl responsibilities (throwing things away, cleaning up her toys, taking her plate to the table), so I can see how giving her baby-related responsibilities would be very helpful.
      I know there will be fantastic days and super un-fantastic days, and days when I feel like I am not doing enough to make both of my kids happy. I'll definitely try to keep the "big picture" in mind when I experience those moments.

      Much thanks again,