How Else to Prepare?

Updated on June 22, 2011
D.M. asks from Springview, NE
15 answers

Any suggestions on how else to prepare my daughter (21 mths) for her upcoming sibling that will be here in Dec? We take her to my appointments, talk to her about babies and that there is one in my tummy, and plan on letting her feel the baby kick when that time comes. She is cute about kissing and touching my tummy when she wants, but want to help her understand more I guess. Or have we done enough?
Edit: When baby comes in Dec she will be 27 months if that helps anyone.

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So What Happened?

I'm not comfortable with classes or preschool yet and won't be until she's at least four but we do have play dates with friends on a regular basis and she's good about playing by herself and being content so no problems there. But otherwise if I need a break/help my inlaws live next door and I have wonderful family and friends of my own to help. :) I just wanted to get the understanding down. She has been in a toddler bed for a few months now and before that we couldn't get her to sleep in her crib but maybe 9-10 times and didn't push it so we co-slept full-time. Already put the baby toys away some time ago also. Thanks everyone for the suggestions! :) Keep them coming! Are there still I'm a big sister books out? She loves books and being read to!

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answers from Chicago on

I agree with the other post about the doll, but also start getting her used to being independent. The posts I see where the oldest has the most trouble are when they have mom and dad 100% at their disposal - no other interests or life of their own- and then WHAM! diverted attention and they feel left out.

Can she take a class a couple days a week? Like a mommy and me thing or even a MDO where you drop her off somewhere? How about pre-school this fall? That way you're getting her used to having HER thing and you can also have a break once the baby comes. Also start working with her on playing independently for longer stretches of time - coloring or playdoh or whatnot so that she is used to that when you have to do something with the baby and then she won't feel 'banished' and instead will view it as it's HER time to play with the ...whatever it is....

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answers from Minneapolis on

"Baby on the Way" by the Dr. Sears's

"I'm a Big Sister" by Joanna Cole (there's "I'm a Big Brother", too.)

Most hospitals or birth centers have age-specific "big brother/big sister" classes - it's usually just one hour, an evening or a weekend, and you go to the class with your child. See if you can sign her up for one in November, right before the baby comes.

Other than that, follow her lead. If she's super interested in babies, get her a doll, visit friends and families who have new babies and let her hold them, interact with them, learn the rules of how to be around babies (don't touch their faces or hands, gentle touch, what kinds of toys are good for babies and what are good for big kids, etc.)

She may not be interested - or she may even go through a period where she doesn't want to hear or do or play anything about babies. That's OK, she's just processing, give her the time to do that.

One thing I did with my oldest that was really helpful was in the few months before my youngest was born, he and I started going to a local free library program every Saturday morning - they have musicians and storytellers and puppet shows and folks from the zoo and nature centers come every week. We made it our regular date, and continued going every Saturday (just the two of us) after my youngest was born. It set aside just a little bit of time that was just for the two of us. After a year or so, we didn't go as regularly, and as my youngest got older, he started to come along, too, and now it's a semi-regular family date.

She's going to do great, kids all figure out the sibling thing in their own way.

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answers from Chicago on

If you will be moving her out of her crib to use for the new baby, start the transition a few months before the due date. Switching beds can be traumatic, or cause her to be rebellious at bedtime, so it is a good idea to have her used to her new bed well before the baby arrives.

Start putting away some of the things that she may not need that the baby will need--younger age toys, etc, that the baby might use. Then she is less likely to feel that those are hers and the baby is stealing them.


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answers from Chicago on

Get her a baby doll that she can care for, teach her what you will be doing for the baby while you are preg and have her act it out. Tell her that it will help mommy if she cared for her baby while you cared for the new baby. There are even wraps/slings you can buy for little kids to put their babies in if you use one too!

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answers from Los Angeles on

Get her a baby doll! If she doesn't have one already. My daughter loved playing with her baby doll when I was taking care of her little brother, and a few times she lifted up her shirt and pretended to "feed" her baby while I fed my baby. I also have the cutest picture of her putting her baby doll in the carseat with her baby brother. It was nice to have because she could use her baby doll to model gentle touching and things like that, and she could pretend to take care of her baby while I took care of her brother. She was 23 months when he was born. Good luck, and congrats on your new little one!

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answers from Honolulu on

1) also explain to her, how it will be once baby comes home and what a baby is: ie, it cries/wakes/mommy nurses him/her.

2) Keep your 'expectations' of her, age appropriate. Just because an eldest child is now an 'eldest', it does not mean they 'suddenly' grow up and mature and know how to behave. They are still their same age.

3) Let her, not have to 'share' everything with baby. HER things are HER things. Young children, are this way. Its okay. Keep her things for her and tell her you know its 'special.' Only have her 'share' if she's comfortable with that. Don't force it.

4) She may need a break from baby too. Like any parent. Its okay.

5) take photos of her with your growing belly. I did that. My daughter loved to do that. She bonded with her baby brother in my tummy, already... before he even came home.

6) It will be a transition for her too. Expect regressions and any behavioral changes. Its normal and per her age. Thus, again, keep parental expectations of her, age appropriate.

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answers from Rochester on

Our daughter was 25 months when our son was born. We talked a lot about the new baby that would be coming and tried to involve her in preparing for the baby. She helped to pick out a new blanket for the baby and a coming home outfit for the baby to wear. Our hospital had a sibling class that was just for an hour one evening. They watched a short video, brought pictures if themselves as babies, colored a picture of a baby, played with some life-like dolls, and got to see the rooms where babies are born and got to see brand-new babies in the nursery. I don't know how much our daughter actually got out of it, but it was nice that she had already seen where I was going to be when the baby was born. Before she came to the hospital to see her new baby brother, Daddy took her shopping to buy him a present. We also had a present for her to open at the hospital from her new baby brother. We gave her a doctor kit which was perfect!

We read a lot of books about babies, too. They weren't all necessarily about being a big sister. Some of our favorites were:
I'm a Big Sister--Joanna Cole
I'm a Big Sister--Ronne Randall
What Do We Do with the Baby?--Rick Walton
The New Baby--Mercer Mayer
Biscuit and the Baby--Alyssa Satin Capucilli

One of the most important things I learned after our son was born is that sometimes I needed to put big sister first and it was OK if baby brother had to cry by himself for a minute. Once I learned that, Big Sister and I had fewer times when we were both crying.

It was also very important for our daughter that she still got one-on-one time with me. Sometimes I would pick her up at daycare first and we would run to the grocery store together or run to Shopko to look at books. Then we would go back to get baby brother or Daddy would pick him up. We would take an hour when he was napping at home to go and do dome Mommy time.

Because I had a c-section and couldn't lift our daughter, we put a small step stool into our van so that she could climb up into her carseat by herself.

I think the most important thing we did to prepare our daughter was to remind her that we still loved her, to still make her #1 sometimes, to help her feel like she was doing special things for the baby, and to make sure we had lots of cuddle time for her. There were sine rough spots, but we made it through.

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answers from Davenport on

I think it won't be real till the baby is here, BUT, you are doing all the right things. You could take her around some friends who have real little babies, get her a baby doll and roll play with it with her. Read big sister/new baby coming books from the library.

Those are all things that will help her understand that a baby is coming. BUT the best things we did with our little girl before my son came, was to try to help her get a little more independant...things like making sure she she could get all her toys out and put them away herself (and encourage/enforce putting away) - for this we got one of those shelves form target withthe separate bins, rather than our old huge toy box that she couldn't reach everything inside of, we cleaned out toys that were too tiny for the baby, and put them in her bedroom in a special box only she could open. Also, we started having her walk in and out of stores, church, etc, holding our hands, and climb the stairs to bed, rather than being carried. She also got potty trained right after he was born, and though not a necessity, it was great, cause she felt so BIG to go potty and not wear diapers like the baby ( and half the diaper changes for me). We started having her bursh her own teeth ( with a check up quick brush from mom or dad at the end each time) & wash her own hands. We also made a concerted effort to have/let her help more (even thought it really seems like MORE work for you, it really gives them self esteem and a sense of accomplishment), even before the baby got here, so she would be primed and ready to help mommmy with the baby when he came - ionce he was here, she would fetch diapers, creams, books to read as I nursed, toys for the baby, etc. She started matching socks and folding washcloths, and putting away the clean tupperware and silverware from the dishwasher for me at 2.

Good luck, it is so neat to see them together, and how their little relationship develops!

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answers from Madison on

I think your daughter will surprise you when the time comes. I was really worried about adding a baby to our lives and how my daughter would react, but she took it all in stride and adjusted so much better and faster than I ever could have hoped for. We had some regressions with sleep/nap times, but other than that she just took to being a big sister right away! I would say try not to worry too much about it. She'll do great, I'm sure and you're already doing everything you could be doing. Melissa J. is right, there's only so much you can tell an almost 2 year old, they will never completely understand until it happens.

But a couple things that did help my daughter a lot... One was to talk about what it meant to be the BIG SISTER. That she needed to help mommy, that she would be helping me take care of a baby, that she would be older and smarter and she could show the baby how to do things,etc. We just really played up how cool it was to be the big sister, and now when people ask her her name she says "I'm the big sister!" Also, try not to always talk about how wonderful, exciting, fantastic, etc. the new baby is going to be. Prepare your daughter by letting her know that there are some not-so-fun things that happen too...the baby is going to need mommy's attention, the baby will cry, the baby will be sharing her toys, etc. so she doesn't get disappointed when it's not all the fun and games she thought it would be.

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answers from Chicago on

My hospital has a "Little Buddies" class that I'm bringing my 2.5 year old twins to this weekend. It gives them a tour of the maternity ward, they get to see the nursery, and they'll read age appropriate stories about babies. Our baby is coming Monday, so I'm hoping the close timing of the class to the birth will help!

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answers from Dover on

I'm not sure there's much more you could do even though you'd like to. She's only capable of understanding so much and at this point, no matter how you phrase it, there's no way she'll totally get that another person is coming to live with you guys soon. My son was only 17 months old when I had my daughter & we had talked about it, he felt the baby kick, all of that, but I didn't take him to my dr.'s appointments. He really surprised us & did a fantastic job of dealing with this noisy, smelly, attention seeking thing moving into his space.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I think you've done enough, my son was 20 months old when my daughter was born...a bit younger than your daughter will be, but not by that much. He understood, as much as he could at that age, what was going on. Honestly, I think pretty quickly after she was home with us, he wouldn't have even really remembered life without her. He is five now, and for sure doesn't remember life without her at this point. I think it could be more of an issue with a sibling that is three plus years older, I think your daughter will be fine.



answers from Washington DC on

I watched the Duggar special last night and she got a baby doll for her daughter that was around your daughter's age that she had for a long time before the new baby came. Her daughter slept with the baby and helped care for the baby but the mom would also carry the baby around like it was the real baby so her daughter got used to her carrying around another baby and sharing attention. She would teach her how to handle the baby (when her daughter but her hand in the baby's eyeball she would gently remind her that you couldn't touch a baby that way). It was a really interesting way to get the little girl used to her new brother on the way.



answers from Milwaukee on

If you let her watch TV, there is a nice DVD from Sesame Street called "Three bears and a new baby" that my children really liked. It shows many of the good and not so good aspects of having a new baby at your house so you can talk about them. Another thing that might be helpful is teaching her to wait for a minute when she wants (but doesn't immediately need) something. That's going to be happening a lot more often once the baby arrives! Something fun that we did was to buy a present for our older child from the new baby. We wrapped it and brought it with us to the hospital. When the baby is born your child can open it--you could even have a little "birthday party" for the baby with your child (they can eat cake).

Good luck!



answers from New York on

There is a book by Rachel Fuller called "Waiting for Baby," and a follow up book called "My New Baby." I love them both because they are simple reads and perfect for stimulating discussion. You can find them on Amazon.

My 3 year old son was not to thrilled about "Waiting for Baby" but it did make it clearer for him to understand about what was happening. We still read "My New Baby" since we have a three month old at home and it does help him to understand a lot.

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