Before my youngest was born, I was filled with all kinds of anxiety. Not the same first-time mom anxiety, I survived my first so I was a pro now (right?), but anxiety about how our new sweet baby would fit into our family.
Making room for baby was about more than setting up the perfect nursery, it was about helping her big sister understand the transition and connect with her little sis. Oh it was such a worry. I fretted many a sleepless night that my big girl would have trouble with her new sister, changing bedrooms and generally a lot of changes. Becoming a big brother or sister is a big deal, and I wanted to make sure she knew in her little three-year-old heart that she was loved just as much as she always had been.
Spruce up their space – While you are making sure baby’s room is perfect, make sure your big kid has a special space of their own. Before baby sister’s arrival my daughter had to give up her bed (crib), so we made a big deal out of getting a new bed and bedding – she was so excited. Even if there won’t be a shift in furniture, add a special touch to your big kid’s room (and make a big deal out of it). Create a space they can go to be happy — a bedroom, a reading nook, a tree house — their own space that is baby free, at least for a while.
A special gift – When baby sister was born, we had her “give” her big sister a doll baby of her own (a Bitty Baby) — a baby she could love and take care of.
Involve big sister/brother – Kids love to help and want to be part of everything, so include them in plans. Let them “help” pick out a special outfit for their new baby sister/brother. Also teach them what to tell people when they ask about the baby, and let them answer the standard questions — when is the baby do, is it a boy or a girl, do you have a name…
Read about it – Books are a fantastic way to teach little ones about what to expect. There are tons of great big sister/brother books out there, but my favorites are I’m A Big Sister / I’m A Big Brother, The Super Incredible Big Sister / Brother (a personalized book) and Big Sister Little Sister. You’ll find each of these books on my daughter’s shelf, including my copy of Big Sister Little Sister from when I was a girl.
Get back into routine – After the baby’s arrival, schedules will be thrown out the window. But as quickly as you can try to return to some established routines. By returning to normal it shows big sister/brother that somethings will remain the same and helps them feel more secure. Involving your new little in the routine, even better.
In our house one of the most important routines is “Milk, T” — a glass (sippy cup) of milk and TV first thing in the morning, at nap time and at bed time. It started as a way to wake up/wind down and make sure my daughter was drinking three glasses of milk a day, today it is just part of our lives and we rarely deviate. Now that baby sister is a toddler, she too begs for her “Milk, T.”
While the girls enjoy a few minutes of TV and a chance to relax, mom knows that they are starting and ending their days with the protein they need to build strong bones. “Milk, T” is bonding time for our family, but milk is also a powerhouse packed with more protein than an egg and nine essential nutrients. Even on days when I lose the breakfast battle and cave to a bowl of dry cereal (my daughter’s breakfast of choice), I know that her belly is full of 8 oz of goodness.
Healthy habits starts young, check out the infographic below for a few more reasons to start your day with a glass of milk.
In the end, there has never been a big sister more excited about her baby sister than my daughter. She adjusted to the transition without issue welcoming her baby sister into the family and into her heart.
Good luck welcoming your little one into your family.