This week I hit the 34 weeks pregnant mark with baby #3. As I march closer and closer to the goal line, prepping my 5-year old son and 3-year old daughter for our newest arrival has been at the forefront of my mind.
You may think that, as the soon-to-be mother of three, this is something I should have down. But last time around was different; my son was only 20 1/2 months old when my daughter was born and couldn’t grasp a lot of the things my children are wondering about now.
Nevertheless, I do–as always–have a bit of a plan. Here are my ideas:
Talk About What the New Baby Will Be Like–A Lot!
As with every other new situation they face, kids will do much better with a new baby when they know what to expect. To that end, we’ve been talking about what life will be like with the baby on a daily basis. We cover how we’re feeling about his arrival as well as what he will, and won’t, be able to do.
The kids are endlessly fascinated by all of the things an infant can’t do. We talk about how he’ll need to learn to smile, laugh, eat, sit up, crawl. etc. We emphasize that in the beginning he’ll probably cry a lot because that will be one of the few things he does know how to do and how we can all help him by teaching him new things and being patient while he learns.
Photos and video of your current children when they were babies helps tremendously with this. For each of our children we’ve made a movie montage set to music of all our favorite clips of them as babies and young toddlers. The kids ask to watch the movies almost on a nightly basis and they’re a great tool for reinforcing what we’ve been talking about.
Talk About What the Delivery Will Be Like
Along with talking to your children about the new baby, be sure to also discuss what will happen when you deliver. Talk to them about your visit to the hospital, how the nurses and doctors will be helping you, and who will be staying with them while you’re away so that there are no surprises on the big day.
Also consider the plan for having your children visit you and the new baby in the hospital as well as for taking the baby home. Last time around we felt it was important that our young son was a part of us returning home together as a bigger family unit. Therefore we arranged for my husband to pick him up and bring him to the hospital for his second visit, after which we all went home together.
Finding a good, age-appropriate book is always my #1 strategy for helping the kids to understand something new. The great thing about a well-written and age-appropriate book is that it takes the pressure of finding the right words off of you. One of our favorite books this time around is Dr. Sears’s What Baby Needs which does a great job of helping young children define what their roles will be when the baby arrives. We also really like I’m a Big Sister and I’m a Big Brother by Joanna Cole.
Involve the Kids in the Pregnancy as Much as Possible
The best way to do this will vary from family to family. If you’re expecting your second child, it might be a good idea (and not too much trouble) to bring your little one with you to a few doctors appointments. If that’s not feasible, you can still involve your children by encouraging them to talk to the baby, to rub your belly, and to feel when the baby is kicking and moving.
Your kids can also play a role in helping you to prepare for baby. Ask them to make a special picture to hang in the new nursery and to help you fill the dresser with clothes and diapers for the baby. Ask for their opinion when picking out things for the baby–just be sure it’s something you’re willing to be flexible on. We had to put our foot down when our kids launched a campaign to name the new baby “Christopher Robin.”
Above all just remember to be open and honest with your kids. Involving them in the process as much as possible now will lead to a much smoother transition down the road.
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