I'm about to be the mom of 3! What!? I can barely believe it! As much as I'm over-the-moon excited, I'm also nervous. I handled bringing a new sibling into the picture when I just had one. But, now that I have two? I don't know what to expect. Brooks is a fantastic big brother to Scarlett but I'm still worried how he will react with little brother in the house. Will he feel like the new baby is taking his place as the only boy in the house?
I'm worried about Scarlett, too. She's our little princess. She loves being held and has been the baby of the family for a year and a half now. No matter what--it will be a transition for both of them. I've made it a priority during my entire pregnancy to prepare them the best I possibly can. I know it will be fine but as a mom, we still have our worries. I think that's just part of it!
Since I have been through this once before, I definitely learned a few tips and tricks that helped Brooks with the transition that I'm still using. They've come from personal experience, experts, and friends. As they say, it takes a village!
Here's what has helped us and what can help prepare your child for their new sibling, too:
Tip #1: Break The News On Their Terms, In Their Terms
You know your child. If they tend to warm up to things a bit slower, ease them into it. I didn't know how Brooks would react to having a baby sister--so I started asking him questions. What would you think if you had another friend to play with at home? Does your friend Rhett like having a sister? Kids learn from their peers so I think this is key. If your child has a close friend with a sibling, invite both of them over for a playdate. It's a great way to have them experience the dynamic of what it means to have a sister or a brother.
When we told Brooks about his new baby sister, Scott and I didn't make it complicated. Depending on what age they are, they won't quite understand what it means until the baby comes home. So don't feel like you have to explain it all up front. Allow the months leading to birth to slowly ease them into the idea.
Tip #2: ...But Don't Shy Away From The Questions
Depending on the age of your child, some may have more questions than others. Before I found out I was pregnant with my third, I actually had the opportunity to attend a talk on this very subject by Betsy Braun Brown, a fantastic child development and behavioral specialist. Her rule of thumb is to always be honest yet sensible. In my experience, I would rather answer the question than ignore it. It can leave kids feeling confused and uncomfortable.
If you like being prepared for anything (especially that "where did babies come from question?") you should definitely check out Betsy's book, Just Tell Me What To Say. She covers this topic plus all the other tough talks that may pop up.
If that "where do babies come from" question does come up, it doesn't mean you need to go straight into the birds and the bees. Brooks' felt satisfied with my belly as an answer and left it at that. It truly depends on your child and their age.
Tip #3: Ask Their Input On The Name
Confession time: we still haven't picked a name. We definitely have options but it's a week away and we still haven't fully decided. For Baby Stuber #3, we've made picking the name quite the family affair. Scott is pretty OCD so he actually makes powerpoint presentations with all the options--middle names included. Leave it to the producer, right!? We make fun of him but it's really sweet.
When we think of a new name, we add it to the list. This isn't just a conversation between Scott and I. We ask the kids for their input, too. It helps them feel included! Brooks' pick? Jack And The Beanstalk.
Tip #4: Help Them Learn Through Play
For Christmas, we got Scarlett her own baby doll. She's been pushing that thing around in a stroller since it's been opened. She's so cute with it! We've taught her how to swaddle her up, rock her gently, and feed her the play bottle. Brooks is getting involved, too! It allows them to feel more comfortable when the real baby actually comes. I have my baby. And they have theirs!
Tip #5: Let Them Pick Out A Baby Gift
This is the fun part. Brooks and Scarlett have already picked out their gifts for their new baby brother. They won't stop asking when they can finally let him open it! I think it adds a bit of excitement. Don't think it has to be practical, though. Let them pick it. Brooks got him a Lego. Scarlett got him a toy he won't be able to play with for years. But, that's not what matters. What matters is that they are looking forward to it...on their terms. Even if that means giving a gift. We even made a book for the baby out of construction paper and markers introducing baby brother to the Stuber tribe!
On that same note, I bought Scarlett and Brooks a little something from the baby to open. Needless to say, we are very excited.
Tip #6: Remind Them Of When They Were The Newborn
This is another great tip I got from Betsy Braun Brown. Pull out the old baby photos or videos to show your kids what life was like when they were a newborn. Shar with them how often they needed a bottle, how often they needed to be changed, and how often they needed to sleep. When they can relate it back to themselves, it's easier to comprehend. This will teach them that all the attention isn't being taken away from them. The new baby just needs more...just like they did!
Tip #7: Start "Mommy & Me" Time Early
I think this is so important. Before the baby comes, make it your priority to set aside separate quality time with each of your kids. Whether it's going to the park or the zoo, plan an activity that is interactive that you know they'll enjoy. This is also a great time to ask them their feelings regarding being a sibling. Are they nervous? Are they excited? Don't be alarmed if they feel negative emotions. It's normal! The more they feel understood, the more comfortable they will feel about this big transition. So take that time to listen.
Tip #8: Find A Sibling Birth Classes In Your City
You don't have to do this alone. Use your resources! Many hospitals offer classes for older siblings to prepare them for what's to come. Your kids may also feel more comfortable asking questions to someone who isn't their parent. It's also a good opportunity for them to interact with other kids who are going through the same transition. If there aren't classes available, these books are a cute and fun way to help prepare:
Tip #9: Reconnect With Them Before Meeting The Baby
This is one that I learned from experience. When Brooks visited Scarlett and I in the hospital, I wasn't holding the baby when he first walked in. Since I had a c-section, he had been away from me for a bit so I wanted to give him that alone time with me before he met his new baby sister. I truly think this helped. It allowed us to reconnect and share a few cuddles.
As far as he knew, this was also the first time Scott and I were meeting baby Scarlett. I truly think it made him feel more secure and definitely more included. When they brought her in, we all sat on the bed as a new family.
Tip #10: Give Each Child A Special Role
Once again, it helps if they feel included. In our experience, it also helps transition them from the baby of the family to being the big boy or girl. And, that's important for them! When I would bathe Scarlett, I would ask Brooks to go grab a towel. Or if I was changing her and she started fussing, I would ask him to sing her a little song. Even if you think they won't, they love that independence and will surprise you!
Baby Stuber #3...we are so ready to meet you and already love you to the moon and back!
Also...for the mommas of 3+: any tips for me that I haven't covered!? Comment below. It would be greatly appreciated!
Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.