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.
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.