Let me start by saying that there is no “perfect” way of preparing your first born for a new baby. A new baby who will steal away mommy & daddy’s attention. A new baby who will get all of these new clothes, furniture & toys. A new baby who will mostly cry & sleep, but not play with them. It can be a really rough transition not only for the parents, but your little one as well.
It all depends on age! For us, our daughter was just barely 1 year old when we found out we were pregnant with our second. Besides the fact that it was a total & complete shock to us, we had no idea how to prepare her for the changes to come. She was our baby. Our first baby. Our baby who was literally still a baby. She’s not going to understand when we say, “You’re going to have a baby brother or sister!” Although we did tell her this, we are almost 100% positive she most definitely did not understand that. But once my belly started getting bigger, we would point and say, “Mommy has a baby in her belly!” Then she would point to my belly & say, “Baby!”
In our case it was hard to find ways to prepare her for this big change. Little did we know, Noah would be born 3 months early and would make that transition a little more difficult for us. Most people don’t know that if your preemie is born at a certain time of the year, there are very strict rules on who can come into the unit. During “RSV” season (which is when Noah was born) only parents & grandparents were allowed in the unit. So Paislee was only allowed to see her brother two or three times before that rule came into play. And he was in the NICU for 3 months. It was really hard to balance all of our time between the two babies with them not being together. The times she did get to meet and see him, she was so so sweet.
The first time Paislee met Noah ♥
I also have to show you this video because it’s just too darn cute. This was when Noah was still in the NICU & Paislee loved to talk to him. She was so sweet & careful around him. She would sometimes touch his head and was so gentle. My heart, y’all.
Given that our case was a bit different, I have collaborated and spoken with a fellow blogger of mine! Krystal Klassen with the Quarter Mile Lane blog has been so gracious to be a guest here on Dogtags, Dolls & Dinosaurs today! Krystal and her four sisters have an amazing blog that they work on together! They have everything from homemaking tips, gardening, recipes, & awesome parenting advice. I am a devoted reader & love their content. They also post some fun & engaging statuses on their facebook page. They are super funny & relatable for all parents!
Krystal (far right) & her beautiful sisters!
After speaking with Krystal a bit, I asked her some questions about her experience when her & her husband found out about their second baby. Our experiences are different in so many ways, & similar too! So happy to introduce her to everyone & share with all of you!
1. What was your first thought when you found out you were having a second baby?
Our second was planned, so we were so excited to be welcoming another little one to our family. After the excitement of finding out we were pregnant, my thoughts immediately turned to worry of how our firstborn would react to a new baby.
Not only was she our first child but she had spent the first 3 years of her life as the only grandchild on my husband’s side. She was also the only great grandchild during that time. With a lot of nearby family, she was the center of attention at every family event. I was really nervous that becoming a big sister was going to absolutely turn her world upside down!
2. How did you break the news to your first child?
We waited quite a while to tell anyone, including our firstborn. Luckily, I didn’t show very quickly so it was pretty easy to keep it a secret for a few months. Once we found out we were having a boy, we told our firstborn that she was going to be a big sister. It took a couple weeks for it to really click that there was a baby in mom’s tummy. During that time we kept reminding her how much fun it was going to be to have a brother to play with and what a great helper she would be.
3. Do you have any special advice or tips to help prepare first borns for a new baby?
My biggest advice would be to stay positive (as much as possible during pregnancy). Kids pick up on negative ideas and conversations really easily. The last thing you want is for your firstborn to have negative ideas about the baby before he/she even arrives! Help your firstborn realize all of the things that they will be big enough to help with when they are a big sister or big brother. We got this book called I’m a Big Sister by Joanna Cole and read it frequently. It was so helpful in reminding our daughter how fun it was going to be to be a big sister. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone welcoming a second child. There is also a big brother version.
We also did some fun activities with our daughter during the last few months of my pregnancy. We took a little weekend getaway and did things that she was interested in like going to the zoo. We also took her to a movie with just mom and dad. I think these opportunities for one on one time helped her feel like she was important even with a little brother coming soon.
4. Is there anything you didn’t do that you wish you had?
I wish I would have gotten the nursery put together sooner. Honestly, the nursery never happened! Our son was born 5 weeks early, so there just wasn’t time. I think this would have helped my firstborn realize sooner that there was really a baby coming. I think it would have helped if she was more familiar with these new surroundings sooner and better understand what the different baby items are for. This would have been another way to prepare her to be a “big helper”!
5. Once the baby arrived how did your first adjust? How are they now?
Oh goodness! I can’t say enough how all of my expectations were exceeded when our baby was born! When our son was born early and spent two weeks in the NICU, my concern of how she would react to a new baby escalated. She was shuffled between family and friends while mom and dad were trying to get baby brother out of the NICU. It was a crazy 2 weeks, but the whole time she was so excited to finally meet her baby brother! When we finally brought baby brother home, she was so happy to meet him and didn’t want to leave his side. I gave her plenty of opportunities to help with baby brother by getting diapers, giving him a pacifier, singing him songs, etc.
Fast forward 4 years, and they still get along as well as any 4 and 7 year old would. My firstborn really likes to play mom and tell her brother what to do, which he doesn’t always appreciate. Often, I have to remind her that she isn’t the mom and that mom can take care of the discipline. She loves to protect him and is quick to help him if he is hurt or sad.
Krystal shares some great tips in there, right? We too read a book to our daughter that explained what the role of a big sister was & Paislee loved to read it almost every night! Now when she reads it, she calls the baby “Bubba” (what we call Noah). It’s so cute. Krystal also brought up a good point with putting the baby’s room together beforehand. With a preemie baby, that can be really hard because you don’t know that your little one is coming so early, so I can definitely relate with her there! But that can be a really great way to help your first born transition into sibling-hood.
Some other transitional ideas to get your first born ready for a new baby:
- Practicing with a baby doll- show them how to help change diapers, go on walks, feed them, give them a bath, etc.
- Showing them your sonograms & general pictures of babies
- Taking them to appointments with you when possible (I remember doing this with my mom before she had my sisters & it made me feel very included and important)
- Watching a tv show or movies that involve a new baby coming into the family (wouldn’t recommend Boss Baby lol- not very realistic)
- Having a “baby countdown”
- Putting the new carseat in the car before the baby arrives
If y’all have anymore ideas, I would love to hear them in the comments!
Also, if there’s one piece of advice I can bestow upon you, it’s this- always make time for EACH/ALL of your children. I understand this is sometimes easier said than done, but it is so important for your children to feel individually loved, appreciated & seen. After you’re all settled in, pump some milk or get the formula stocked up, and go out with your first born. Being the first born, I know first hand how much I loved hanging out with either my parents without my little sisters around. DONT’ GET ME WRONG, I love my sisters so, so much. But it’s nice to have all of the attention. Children need it. Babies tend to get most of it, especially when they are brand new. Because they require so much TLC.
Trust me, making time for all of your babies & taking the time to transition them in a healthy way will set everyone up for success in the long run. If you are preparing for this transition, I wish you the best of luck!
Happy Hunger Games!…haha jk
As always, God bless †
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