Prepping big sister for the big day

03/09/2011 at 9:57 am | Posted in baby sunshine, Small Fry | 22 Comments
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So, how does one prepare a very independent, used-to-getting-all-the-attention toddler for the day her baby brother or sister arrives?

Good question.

We’re sort of winging it, but so far, it seems that Small Fry is actually excited to be a big sister. Emphasis on the word “seems.” I have a feeling it’s going to be hit-or-miss until the very moment she lays eyes on the baby.

But we’re trying our best to get her ready. Some of you have asked for our strategies, so I thought I’d share:

– LOTS of talk. Especially about how awesome being a big sister will be, how much fun she’ll have with the baby, and all the ways she can help out. Small Fry is especially excited to help bathe and feed HER baby, so she says. And teach brother or sister lots of cool stuff, like this:

– Dora! Of course. Who better to prep our big-sister-in-training than the queen of adventure herself? A friend loaned us a Dora DVD in which Dora becomes a big sister. Small Fry LOVES to watch it. Repeatedly. A few fun facts: Dora’s mommy has TWO babies, so be prepared for the questions that will come. And Dora exclaims “A baby! A baby! A baby!” A LOT, so unless you’re playing a drinking game, this gets old. Fast.

– Books. This one is Small Fry’s favorite.

– “Decorating” the nursery. Small Fry feels so special when I let her help me get the baby’s room ready. She pressed stickers on the wall and enjoys pulling baby clothes out of the countless bins parading down from the attic. We’re also going to work on a “welcome home” sign for the nursery door.

– Feeling the baby move. Any chance I get, I invite Small Fry to put her hands on my wiggling belly. She can’t get enough! It’s especially fun if we’re snuggling, and she feels the baby move against her belly.

– Big sister’s special day. My mom and Laura are putting together a little date just for Small Fry. She’ll get treats (like a “big sister” t-shirt) and do a craft project. In other words? Her dream day.

– Finally, I got an awesome piece of advice today: ask the hospital staff for a bracelet for Small Fry to wear, just like Mommy, Daddy and the baby will have. Isn’t that the coolest idea?

If you have any other suggestions — or funny stories — about how to prepare big brother or sister for baby’s arrival, we’re all ears!



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  1. The only suggestion I have (and this advice comes from a friend, because I only have one baby!) is to keep her routine going once the baby is here. My friend kept her older child Elliot home (a three-year-old) from day care the first few weeks when the baby was born, because her husband was also home and they thought it would be good “family” time…turns out Elliot needed the comfort of his routine — and some time away from the baby — to help him through the transition period.

    On a lighter note, my mom loves to tell the story that I was so excited for my little brother to be born (I was 3.5 when he was born). And the first few weeks, I was quite the “helpful” big sister. But then I got bored. And one morning I asked my mom “can we take him back now?” So my mom asked me where I thought we would “take him back”….and I replied that he should get returned to the grocery store, where we sometimes take other stuff back that we decide that we don’t want. No worries however…aside from the normal brother/sister fights, my brother & I got along just fine (and still do).

    • Awesome advice — thank you! Small Fry is definitely a creature of routine, so we’ll be sure to try to keep her schedule as normal as possible. And I LOVE the story about you and your brother! Classic.

  2. So, I haven’t put much thought into this yet. I am glad you have and decided to share! When I saw the title of your post I realized just how much at a loss I am to prepare Ian to be a big brother. He also “seems” excited. Once he has to share the limelight, I am sure that will fade.

    Don’t hate me, but I am glad you are going first and can give me lots of wisdom when my time comes :).

    I will definitely be using some of your ideas too!

  3. One thing we did to make big brother feel good about the new baby was, we had him pick out a special stuffed animal to give his sister in the hospital. He loved picking out his own special present for the baby…we then had him give it to her the day she was born. The little stuffed pig stayed in his sister’s bassinet during our hospital stay and was then moved to her sleeping place of choice over the next several months before settling in her crib. Now this little stuffed pig has become almost a third appendage to my daughter…she carries it everywhere! Our son often says proudly, “I gave her, her favorite toy!”

    We also had the ultrasound tech print him his very own picture of the baby which said, “My Little Sister!” during our 20 week visit. We also had him make a sign for the hospital room door & got him a hospital bracelet.

    I believe all these little things along with reading books on the subject and keeping the older Childs routine (as mentioned in an earlier post) really help the older sybling to adjust. My son had absolutely no jealousy issues when his sister arrived. Even today (almost 2 yrs later), he is still great with his little sister…I truly hope it continues into adulthood!

    • Awesome idea, Cat! Can’t wait to take Lily shopping to pick out her gift for the baby. Thanks for sharing this with us!

  4. holy cow catherine, you just made me cry! what a cool idea with the stuffed animal…so sweet.

    if it’s any sign of what’s to come, with the way small fry looks out for baby o, i think she’s going to be one amazing big sis! she’s got a mom who’s the best big sis out there…so it’s in the blood!

  5. Sounds like you’re doing awesome…much more than we did with our oldest! We just let her help with the baby preparations like the nursery and the clothes and talked to her a lot. It helped that we had the real name for her brother picked out for a good bit of the pregnancy so she was excited to meet him when he arrived. I guess it made it more real. Once she met him, she was totally in love with him.

    And, though it will be hard, really try to keep her schedule the same and to make time for her after the baby is born. My husband and I would take her with us when one of us would leave the house to run errands so she still got one-on-one time with us even if it was just to Target or the grocery store. She still loves those “dates.”

    Good luck, you’ll be awesome!

    • Love the idea of little one-on-one dates. You’re right — any alone time we can salvage with SF will be special. Thanks for sharing!!

  6. What a great post!!
    I love that everyone gave ideas of their own.
    I’ll remember these for when it’s my girlies turn to be a big sister.

  7. You have some great ideas already – I wish I had been as prepared. The hospital bracelet idea someone suggested is a great one too – my son wished he had one at the hospital & was very curious about them!

    Two things we did that worked well for us – 1) We had a special stool that we got just for Wyatt to use in Stella’s room to peep at her in the crib or to help with diaper changes. She is now 6 months old, and he still loves using that stool in there to “help” with her. 2) We told our son that the baby would have a “gift” for him when he came to see her at the hospital, and we packed it in our hospital bag. He was very excited to meet his sister, but also super excited to get his gift, which is still very special to him.

    • Those are great ideas!! I think SF would especially be thrilled if the baby brought her a gift. So cool! Thanks!!

      • Great suggestion! That was what my parents did…I got my own brand new mini Cabbage Patch doll that Will somehow gave me the day he was born. I never questioned how he bought it, but I know to this day I can tell you exactly where that doll is at my mom’s!

  8. I love the special day idea!

    We did lots of books and any time B asked if the baby would come out of my mouth I just said “uh huh” because I wasn’t prepared for that talk at 4.

    He was very bored by the baby so this time we will remind him and his sister the baby sleeps lots and lots and lots. Telling him he got to stay up later than her didn’t work out well since the baby decides that!

    When he met his sister his first words were “Why does she have a boys haircut?” I love it.

    • Too funny! I hadn’t considered that the baby might be boring to SF for a little while. So true!

  9. Lovely blog, Momma!

  10. First, I think Pippi has the same helmet, tricycle and boots. Love it.

    Second, when Pippi arrived, things we did for Junius…
    – When he came to the hospital to meet his sister, we had a present for him from her. It was a babydoll, so that he could have his own baby. He played with it for about 10 minutes, then put it in the bassinet with his sister. But I still think he liked the idea.
    – My MIL loaded Juni up with another round of presents the next day, so the fun kept coming.
    – Agree with the comments about staying on schedule. Juni went to preschool every day, just like normal.
    – Be sure that you still put Small Fry to bed sometimes (if that’s something you usually do) so that she doesn’t think you only do that for the baby now.
    – Don’t be afraid to strap that baby into a carrier and go on to the park or wherever you and Small Fry normally go.

    • Awesome advice, Cyndi! Thanks! I especially love your last point. I’m really hoping that SF will be a driving force that gets me out of the house with the baby. Last time, I was so afraid to do anything in public with my little screamer. But now that I have a whole arsenal of kid-friendly places we can go, it’s much less daunting.

  11. My eldest niece was just over 3 yo when my youngest niece was born. She handled it well, b/c they did things like you listed above. But once baby came, big sister was SO excited and thrilled! They talked up the big sister-ness with “helping mommy” and “teaching baby”.

    The crying really scared her though. She couldn’t understand why the little baby cried so much and then would cry too. Then after 2 weeks it turned to background noise and she stopped simultaneously crying (thank g-d, bc that wasn’t annoying or anything….)

    Sidenote: i only stayed as live-in help for the first two weeks of the youngest’s life – so I can’t say what really happened after that! However, Madelyne is almost 8 mo and Eleanor is a wonderful big sister. 🙂
    Everything will be wonderful in your house b/c you are such a nurturing mom!

    sidenote sidenote: I know nothing about being a mom, just a teacher.

    • I hadn’t even thought about the crying! That’s something I will definitely start talking with SF about. Because she is most definitely a sympathetic crier. Thanks for sharing your story! You know a lot more about motherhood than you give yourself credit for. 🙂

  12. No advice…we did a lot of talking about the baby that was in my belly and eventually going to come out and join our family. Big brother seemed to get it and get excited as well. The day he came to the hospital to meet her (this was just last week) he was amazed. And now he says “she came out.” Meaning she was in my belly and finally came out. He has been very loving to her and really enjoys when we ask him to help or take care of her. I hope it lasts!

  13. I’ve loved reading all these suggestions. We’re due in July and haven’t given too much thought to special prep. Finn will be four and he understands that his baby sister is coming in July (we explained the weather would be really hot when she arrives since it is still snowy and cold here) and he has felt her move a few times. He loves talking to my belly and asking what his baby sister says back.

    Getting a special gift for him from her sounds like a great idea.

    • Thanks for stopping by! So nice to “meet” another mom expecting baby #2. 🙂

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