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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Preparing to be a Big Brother


We spent a lovely day with Pip on Sunday; we went to the local farmer’s market and then to the nearby adventure playground by the river. Afterwards, we walked up to a local beauty spot for tea and cake, and then wandered aimlessly through the muddy grounds and fallen leaves.  Pip insisted on holding both of our hands, only letting go to climb the odd tree.  He looked so sweet, dressed in green, bright red and blue with his co-ordinating wellies, and he still seemed so young to me.  It was a special day, appreciating him, and being together just the three of us.  I wondered if it would be our last weekend alone together before three become four.

He understands that EB will soon be arriving in this world.  In odd moments, I detect a hint of apprehension or insecurity. He has asked me a lot recently, "Do you love me,  Mummy?", "Am I your best friend, Mummy?". I have done my utmost to assure him my love for him knows no bounds.  In other moments, I can tell from the questions that he asks, or the little things that he does, that he is looking forward to EB’s arrival and being a big brother.

I have tried not to underestimate what a significant change having a sibling will be for him; he has had us completely to himself for the past three and a half years.  In preparation for the arrival, I’ve tried to take a few steps to prepare him for what’s about to come, and to also ensure he doesn’t think EB is going to be able to merrily go off on a bike ride from day one. (Something that has been mentioned more than once, although he has declared that EB’s bike is going to have ‘super slow wheels’.)

Reading : Books about Babies
We’ve been given a couple of lovely books to help young children understand pregnancy and becoming a sibling.  Our favourite is ‘There’s a House inside my Mummy’.  The book tells the story of a little boy who is about to become a big brother, and explains what is happening to his Mummy and her body.  It is written in rhyming prose, and has prompted some wonderful questions and conversations with Pip.

At one point the book explains that it’s like a giant warm bathtub inside Mummy’s tummy. Which prompted my son to ask; "Do you have taps in there?”.  I guess you can’t fault his logic.  The description of Mummy’s bellybutton as a 'tummy telephone' with which to communicate with baby has also been very well received.  And I confess, I have been guilty of ‘faking’ some kicks as Pip talks through it to EB (or at least pushing my belly out quickly) which has met with great delight.

The other book we’ve been reading, is ‘The World is Full of Babies.’ If your child likes animals as mine does, this is a good book as it looks at how different animals are born and nurtured in comparison to babies.  It also shows images of a mother breastfeeding her newborn which can be difficult to find in books for children this age.

 

Looking Back 
We’ve also spent some time looking together at photos and videos of Pip on the computer when he was a baby.  He loves doing this and hearing stories of what he was like as a baby, and I’m hoping this has helped crystallise in his own mind what EB will be like, and just how little he’ll be able to do at first.  “No darling, he won’t be able to make an ENORMOUS Lego tower straight away”.

Preparing for the Home Arrival
I’ve read on a number of occasions that children can feel insecure when new siblings arrive home, and that it is best for Dad or another relative to hold the baby when they are first introduced to the older child.  You can never predict how things will happen in the moment, but I’ll try to bear this in mind when the time comes.

Many people have suggested that it is a good idea to have a gift from baby to give to their older sibling, so a long hankered after hunk of Octonauts plastic, complete with 'slime pellets’, has duly been purchased. Pip also loves balloons, so depending on how things go, and if the babysitting Grandparents are up to it, we thought we would let him decorate the house with a few of them prior to EB’s homecoming.  I know this will make him extraordinarily happy.  

Entertaining Pip whilst Breast Feeding
The reality of this is what worries me most about EB's arrival.  Regular readers will know that Pip formed a strong attachment to my breasts, and I am still not sure how he will feel about EB being allowed to step up to the milky bar.  One suggestion that was shared with me and which I plan to try is the introduction of a Breastfeeding Box.

The premise behind this idea is that the box is filled with different activities to do daily. Sticker sheets/ a new book/ crayons and a colouring sheets/ a cheap toy.  It comes out when mother is breastfeeding and is put away after each feed.  I don’t know how Pip will respond to this, but today we sat down and decorated our box together.




I’ve picked up a variety of bits and pieces to fill it with; Thomas the Tank Engine sticker books, colour your own Christmas cards, cheap 99p packs of crayons, plus some other small activities and toys.  Thomas the Tank Engine books or Ladybird first readers also fit nicely inside our box; I am hopeful that during a breast feed there will be good opportunity to sit and read with Pip. One shop I found especially good for filling our box with these bits and pieces is Tiger. Danish by origin, it stocks some great stocking fillers/ craft items at rock bottom prices, but with better quality than you’d find in the £ shop. I also picked up a few bigger craft activities which hopefully will be useful on those dark, cold winter afternoons when we are house bound and need an activity to occupy us.

Other than these simple steps, I can’t think of much more I can do. I just hope the integration of a fourth person into our family is smooth. The above is all good in theory, I guess only time will tell what happens in practice.  


How did you prepare your older child for the arrival of a sibling? What worked for you? Do you have any do’s or don’ts to share? I would love to hear your thoughts.


26 comments:

  1. What a lovely, fabulously exciting time for all of you. Some great ideas here. Looking forward to hearing about how it goes.

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    1. Thanks for reading and commenting Polly. Yes, it is exciting. Hopefully I will snatch some time from somewhere to blog about how we're getting on. x

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  2. Ooh yes, I did lots of these, including the bf box (bag for us) filled with things to do and food and drinks too. Unfortunately it didn't work. Neither did TV. He just ended up climbing on me. The only thing that worked was sitting on the sofa all together and me reading books to my eldest. Quite a nice solution really.

    The best pre arrival books were Baby by India Knight and There's going to be a baby by Helem Oxenbury.

    Generally it was a hard transistion, but I tried not to intervene in things too much and now my youngest is 18mo and they are devoted to each other.

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    1. Interesting feedback about the BF box/bag. Ah well, one can but try. I fear that I may just be clambered all over too - we shall see! Reading books is a good solution though - I'll be happy with that. Very encouraging to hear that your children are now so close. Thanks for commenting.

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  3. lots of great ideas MP, mine were (very) well spaced apart! Pip is going to be a fabulous big brother - 38-5 today, not that I'm counting :)) xx

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    1. You are so lovely, I can't believe you know my day count! x

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  4. Gosh you're so well prepared, I don't remember being half. As. Organised. Books and breast feeding worked well, I found. Sorry for crappy iPad typing. X

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    1. The thing is...I don't feel well prepared. I'm trying, but it still feels like there is so much to do :0). In reality though, most of it is 'nice to do stuff', you need very little for the newborn, and the rest will just fall into place; *crosses fingers* and tries to look confident.

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    2. Oh yeah - 'Fake it until you make it!'

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  5. This is an amazing post. All your suggestions are wonderful and truly practical and easy to apply. I've been trying to think of a way to prepare my son but he's a toddler. And while he know's 'sister' is in mummy's tummy I don't really know what that means to him. What 'sister?' who or what that is? On sunday hubby and I put up glow in the dark stars in their room I said to him he could have the sun and sister could have the moon, but he said he wanted the moon. So we opted to grant him his wish as he's the only one in the room at the moment and to make him feel he has some input. I'll certainly order the books you have named as he loves books and regularly requests 'Book in bed'. Thanks for sharing :0) And goodluck with deliver etc.

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    1. I think the younger they are, the more difficult it is for them to understand, but in some ways, I think they are more accepting too. I think granting him the moon was a nice thing to do. Thank you for your lovely comment. Good luck with your delivery and forthcoming arrival.

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  6. I just loved 'has your tummy got taps' and that EB's bike will have 'super slow wheels'. You are so well prepared - those books sound fab, and I really, really like the idea of the breastfeeding box - Little A can't remember breastfeeding now but she is very fond of my boobies - she likes to cuddle them if we have a bath together - it's lovely to know she associates them with goodness, comfort and warmth. I'm sure Pip will be okay in the end and will settle into a life with his new brother, but as you say it will be a big transition for him at first - but probably easier than having a two year old - at 3.5 years he will have a bigger understanding of what's happening. Ps. one of Little A's very first words was balloon; 'oooon' - kids just love them don't they? XXX.

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    1. Hopefully the breastfeeding box will be a hit. Yes, I do think the transition will be easier for him at 3.5 years rather than 2. Fingers crossed! x

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  7. Ahhh, poor Pip, it's definitely playing on his mind, isn't it. At two, my is still a little too young to fully understand what's going on. He's excited when we talk about the baby but I think it'll be a different story when we actually bring him home.

    Wonderful ideas for helping to ease the transition for Pip. I'm definitely going to steal the breast feeding box idea although I won't have it as tough as you because CK will still go to nursery 4 days a week for the 4 months after the baby arrives - he'll reduce to 2 at the beginning of May when we've been able to establish a routine that will work for the three of us.

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    1. Great that CK will still be in nursery for the first few months, it will give you a chance to bond and get into more of a routine with baby. Pip will be at pre-school but only in the mornings. I think I'm going to feel that I've only just got home from taking and then it'll be time to go and pick him up again at lunchtime :0)

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  8. This is a great post with some brilliant ideas. I too am apprehensive about how my daughter will react to our new baby and have been reading books (such as there's a house in mummy's tummy, mummy mummy what's in your tummy and topsy and tim to her to try and prepare her. In the last week she has started touching my tummy and saying hello to her little sister, as well as giving her a kiss, which is nice. I've made sure we have done her big girls room and moved her into it several months in advance so she doesn't feel like she is being moved because of the baby too. I want to breastfeed but my daughter does demand a lot of my time and attention and I have worried about how well it will work so maybe the breastfeeding box could work for me too. Thanks so much for sharing and good luck! Hope you are all well xxx

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    1. Thanks CJ. I've found reading these books has been a nice way of addressing our imminent arrival. Great too that your little girl has had lots of time to settle into her big girl bedroom. Hope you're feeling well. How long have you got to go?

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  9. That sounds like a lovely day-it feels very strange when we are out and about now knowing that there aren't going to be any more outings as a family of 3! Sounds like he is definitely aware of the changes now, but I am sure he will be fine after the first couple of weeks (that seems to be the case with my NCT Mummy friends who have just had their second children anyway). Might have a look to see if I can get one of those books to help Alex understand a bit more so thanks for showing those. I haven't even thought about how Alex will react to me breastfeeding...
    Hope you are feeling well, not too much longer now! x

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    1. Thanks HM Mum. Hope if you buy the books that he finds them useful. I think Pip has a slight preference for the first one. Good luck to you too. Not long now, the end is in sight! x

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  10. What great ideas. Love the breastfeeding box. I can imagine how anxious you must be to make sure Pip doesn't feel left out. Sounds like he won't be for a second. x

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    1. I'm hopeful he'll embrace being a big brother from the off. Time will tell I guess :0). Thanks for commenting.

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  11. That first book looks lovely and the breastfeeding box is a great idea. The only thing that is guaranteed to keep my boy occupied for a good while is doing jigsaw puzzles on my smartphone or tablet - most of them you can download for free, do 3 or 4 puzzles and then if you want more you have to pay aroung £1.50, but he loves doing them and will happily repeat the free ones. Pip is about a year older I think, but I'm sure there's other age appropiate things to play with.

    Best of luck with the next few weeks, I've not done it (yet) but sounds like it will be such an amazing, exciting, exhausting and emotional time. I'll be thinking of you this weekend xx

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    1. You're right, the lure of a smart phone/ ipad is strong. Pip loves mine! Great idea though to have it nearby just in case. Thank you for reading and commenting. Hope you are well.x

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  12. Ah this brings back such memories for me. When i had my second child, the eldest was only 18 months. I did exactly as you did and bought lots of small things to entertain her whilst I was feeding - books are a lovely thing to share at these times too. I remember her actually liking the fact that I was sitting down for more than 2 minutes and actually it can be a time when you all bond together. I hope it goes well for you all - you sound very well prepared!

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    1. Thanks Suzanne.Your comments are always reassuring. Am hoping it will be a special bonding time for all of us. x

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