When we decided to start planning for baby number two of course the first questions to come up were “how was Adler going to adjust?” and “how could we ease the transition for him?”. Now I know there are a lot of articles on this topic – I was reading all of them! I will repeat the tried and true methods but add in our experience and how we tailored it for our family.
1: Familiarize With Babies. Adler was about 18 months when we started seriously talking about adding another. Up to that point he had interests in caring for baby dolls and playing house but he didn’t have much at home so we got him a baby doll (2 birds 1 stone plan as we got a baby that also would “go potty” for future potty training) and we also got the care items and stroller. We helped him in the beginning but it didn’t take long for him to involve his baby in all his activities and taking care of her.
2: Read Books. Adler is super drawn to books so any book I could find on new babies/siblings I would grab. He loved learning that way and it would open up questions from him and I would emphasize how the “big brother” would help with new baby and how life was with a baby.
3: Talk About The Baby. We started talking about the “baby in mommy’s tummy” pretty early on… I know this is personal preference and some may choose to wait especially with older children but we knew we wanted to share with Adler right away since he had a lot to learn. We would share pictures and the sound of her heartbeat with him. And towards the end he would feel my tummy for her kicks and talk to her… mainly to say “knock knock!” “come out!” (Knocking motions included) and also sing “rock-a-bye baby” as he would rock my tummy.
4: Videos of Birth Stories. This next one is one that some will choose to forgo but myself being a birth worker was a must… We watched birth story videos together. Yes I would screen them before sharing and there wasn’t any full view births but doing this was even more powerful than reading the books. I kept getting hung up on trying to explain that baby was in my tummy and one day wouldn’t be. I will never forget his excitement seeing when one minute there was no baby and the next there was. He would clap his hands and excitedly say “Baby! Baby! Baby!” in those moments he understood and I of course had happy tears sharing my passion and the amazing event of birth with my son.
5: Complete Big Tasks. Make a list of things to be done before baby and space them accordingly. When we got pregnant Adler was 20 months still in his crib and diapers. We also had to reconfigure our house to make room for all of us on one level. Our first task was potty training right after his 2nd birthday. Now I’m not going to lie.. We got lucky in that department and Adler responded to the 3-day method and has been fully potty trained since then but we didn’t know how it would go before starting so we gave ourselves and him 4 months before baby came. We didn’t intend to night train him… he did that on his own which directly rolled into the next task of moving him to his big boy bed and new room. We had that completed about 2 months before baby came.
6: Shifting Roles. Now the biggest piece to help the transition.. We didn’t want him to feel like the baby stole mom from him and develop resentment. I being a stay at home/work from home mom I have always been the main care provider for him. We knew that our nights would be much different with a baby since I’d be up every 2-3hrs nursing, Kevin was happy to make the deal that at night it was me and baby and him and Adler. Once Adler was in his big boy bed and night trained we slowly transitioned to Kevin being the main night time provider. It was a little hard on Adler and of course there would be (and still are) some hard nights where he just needs mama and I’m happy to give extra cuddles and love. Having all of these transitions done a month before baby came really kept it separate feeling and not a direct reason for completely changing his routine which has set up a great start.
When Amelia was born I was in the hospital for 4 days (twice as long as planned) but Adler had a blast with grandma the whole time! They came and visited a couple times and he loved his sister right off the bat.
We are now 2 months out and Adler still has nothing but love for her, he even is protective of her around others and always makes it known that she’s HIS baby sister. He is such an amazing big brother and is so excited to teach her all the things he knows and share the things he loves with her. To the mamas out there who may be starting to think of baby #2 or are well on your way already, I can tell you it is a love that is so amazing, special and heartwarming.
If you are looking for more resources on preparing your older children for your birth, Donna loves teaching the sibling birth prep class!
This blog is written by Mallory and Donna - at Black Hills Birth Boot Camp. Expect birthy topics, parenting triumphs and trials, and community resources and interviews. Have a topic idea you’d like us to address? Drop us a note!