I started thinking about how to prepare A for the arrival of a new brother and sister quite a while back. One of my favorite books on the topic is The Second Baby Book by Sarah Ockwell-Smith, a popular gentle parenting activist. In the book she talks a lot about not only the experience of being pregnant a subsequent time and all that comes with it, but also suggests multiple ways to help ease the transition for your firstborn. Here are some of the things I have implemented:
Don’t make any huge changes to your firstborn’s life from around 3 months before the birth until around 3 months after. These changes are things like moving to a new house, switching to their own bed, or starting school that can be massive periods of transition for everyone in the family, but especially your firstborn. The argument behind this recommendation is that making big, and possibly difficult changes, too close to the birth of another baby can make your firstborn associate negative emotions with their new sibling. I’m glad I read this book for the first time when I was TTC so I didn’t make the mistake! We moved to a new apartment in January and transitioned my 2 year old to a floor bed at that time, a good four months before my due date. He is now settled in our new routine and it doesn’t feel new anymore at all.
Set up the house for the new baby from about a month prior to their arrival. This included setting up the sleeping area in our bedroom as well as a movement area in our play room. Setting up these spaces so far in advance may seem excessive, but doing so gives your firstborn a chance to get used to them (and lose interest in them!) before their sibling arrives. Asahi actually helped me set up the movement area and we love to talk about how it is for his new brother and sister when they come. I talk about how i will sit there and play with all three of them and he seems to get it! He’s especially a fan of lounging on the TwinZ nursing pillow!
In addition to setting up these spaces, we also picked out some of Asahi’s old baby toys that he would like to give to the new babies and put them in a special bin. We did this together so he could consent to giving the toys to them, as well as have a last chance to play with them. I’m looking to add a few new things as well that will be only for the babies so they can all have their own toys. Usually, jealousy over toys isn’t really a thing until the younger siblings become mobile but I want to be in the habit of making sure everyone has toys that are their own as well as toys they share to hopefully avoid any of that negativity.
Talk about what baby’s do in whatever way you can. We have been talking about what baby’s do (cry, sleep a lot, drink mamaka (breastfeed), get their diaper changed) for quite awhile now. Asahi particularly likes to talk about how the “mamaka” will come back when the new babies are born and they will drink only that, since they don’t get to eat all the yummy foods like he does! He is particularly excited for the milk to come back, ha! Some people also like to read books about taking care of babies or practice with dolls, but Asahi hasn’t been too into those things so we just stick to talking about it.
Make a baby photo book of your firstborn as a baby doing baby things. This is an adapted idea from my friend who made a photobook to commemorate her child’s breastfeeding journey when they weaned, but I think it’s awesome! I went online and created a book with lots of photos of Asahi as a baby and wrote about how he used to sleep and drink lots of mamaka. I put a big focus on him breastfeeding and being carried because I think it’s important that he be reminded as some toddlers can get jealous of their siblings being breastfed/carried. I’m planning to give him the book when it arrives so he can look through it before his brother and sister are born.
That’s it! What did you do to prepare your firstborn for the arrival of their sibling(s)?