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Monday, February 04, 2013

Motherhood Mondays: How do you prepare your older child for a new baby?

My one big worry these days is...

...how the new baby will affect Toby.

When we told Toby early on that a new baby would be joining our family, he requested a "glurl" named Thomas. These days, though, when the baby is casually mentioned, he holds up his hand, looks me in the eye and tells me very sternly, "No baby, Mama. No baby."

And I get his point. Right now, I have so much time to devote to Toby, and our relationship is sweet and close. I really worry about losing that closeness once a newborn arrives and I don't have as much one-on-one time with him. In those early days with a newborn, I can't imagine we'll still be going out to breakfast, on afternoon bike rides...but I don't want him to suddenly feel as if he's our second priority. How can I keep him feeling loved?

In her memoir Waiting for Birdy, Catherine Newman quotes Penelope Leach:
"Imagine your husband coming home to tell you that he was proposing to take on a second wife as well as you, and imagine him using the various phrases that are frequently used to break the news of a coming baby to a child:
* "I like you so much I just can't wait to have another gorgeous wife."
* "It'll be
our wife. It'll belong to both of us and we'll both look after her together."
* "I shall really need my reliable old wife to help me look after this new young one."


How can you help prepare your beloved older child for a new baby? Children's books about siblings? Regular dates with your child? If you have multiple kids, did your older child flip out when the new baby arrived? If you're an older sibling yourself, do you remember it being traumatic? I would so appreciate any insight...Thank you!!!
P.S. I liked this idea.

Update: Thank you SO much for this incredible advice! Can't tell you how grateful I am for your suggestions.

327 comments:

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Krissygrace said...

@lsia C-- that is exactly how I feel. My twin sister is my soul-mate. In fact, my mom told me that when we were little, we would cry for each other when something was wrong, and not for her.

My Bearded Pigeon said...

I am breastfeeding my second, now 3mths old as I type this. My older daughter just turned 6. She loves the baby she has moments where she misses our time but she loves the baby so much. My husband has made sure they have loads of special fun time together like camping and going to the beach a Lot,I think it's actually made the two of them closer. I was just really honest and said the baby will take up lots of time, but when she is asleep the dishes and washing can wait I spend time drawing an making things with her and this helps. Congratulations!!!

Beth E. said...

My oldest loved it. Was so thrilled. But I know that when I was suddenly not an only child anymore I freaked. I resented my brother for years and year. Honestly, probably until he was 10 or so. A lot changed right around the time my mom had my brother though. We moved cities, she and my dad started new jobs (my mom working for the first time), I started full day kindergarten and then my mom got a raging case of postpartum depression. I think the best thing to do is still make sure you have alone time with him. Sit on the toilet while he takes his bath and have a long conversation, read to him, take him for little errands, make him feel important by having him "help". It may also be a great opportunity for him to get closer to his dad and bond because little children go crazy from babies crying just as we all do so you two can trade off on taking field trips to cool places.

Mary said...

I worry about this same thing as I'm prego with my second and my daughter is turning 3 soon. I'm actually a second child born super close in age to my older sister. But I'm told my parents felt really bad that my older sister had to grow up fast and really tried to give her as much attention as possible, overly so. My personality being much more easy going as a newborn, they said I was content from day one without much catering to. This pattern continued into our teenage years and a lot of people say that I seem like the older child and very independent. What I've concluded is that growing apart or testing the boundaries of independence that my first daughter will go through because of a newborn, though it is a challenge, will be a good experience and part of her growing up. Though it's hard to think of her as growing up at all because she's just 3, I'm comforted that it's part of the process that will be a good experience for her. So I love the ideas of giving each child individual attention and will def do that but this notion helps to keep me from overcompensating or feeling overly guilty that she may feel left out or hurt which I'm known to do. Our children are strong and the bond will return a slightly new and developed one. :)

Naomi Jacob said...

When my little sister was born, I leaned over to take a good look at her and declared "A la basura!" ("Throw her in the trash!"). I was three years old and I didn't even speak Spanish. I just knew exactly where she belonged!

I got over it though, and I love her madly. But that day, she felt like yuck!

Be Ready Bravely

Deborah Gragg said...

When expecting my second child, I spent lots of time talking to my two-year-old, explaining how the baby was going to be ours to KEEP (had heard plenty of stories about siblings misled into believing this baby was just "coming" and no one mentioning it would be permanent!) and wouldn't be going back to the hospital or anything. I THOUGHT I had covered all of the possible misunderstandings in her little mind. Then, one night when her baby sister was a few days old, and I was tucking Big Sister into bed, I finished reading her story and snuggling for a nice long while, I said something to her like, "I need to let you go to sleep now, because our baby is probably going to wake up soon and she'll need her mommy to feed her." My beloved "big" girl looked at me with sudden and horrific clarity and asked, "Wait...are YOU the baby's mommy?" Which was quickly followed by, "...and is Daddy the baby's daddy, too? And is Grandma the baby's grandma?" Somehow I had managed to NOT communicate that her new sister would have the same relationships with us that she did. It was a few minutes of that horrible "how could we have done this to you...YOU didn't ask for a new baby!" Of course it all got cleared up eventually, but I held onto that guilt for a while (pretty sure I cried to my husband later on!). If I had any advice (these little girls of mine are now 23 and 21, heehee), I would say go easy on yourself. Try not to approach it as something you are doing "to" your first born that is guilt-worthy. It's just a matter-of-fact part of life--how a family grows. And as much as I've always loved P. Leach...she's not totally right here (and I ABSOLUTELY remember reading that when I was expecting my second!!!!). A parent-child relationship is NOT the same as a husband-wife one. And while you may be giving up some of your first-born's special attention, you are also giving him the (probably) adoration of a younger sibling that cannot be replicated by a parent. Finally, while it's easy to put all of your sympathy with your first child, remember that baby #2 will never get that pristine "brand-new little family" time that you had when you brought your first baby home. His/her beginning will be filled with toddler tantrums and crazy schedules. Baby #2 has to share you from the get go. You'll very soon realize that your heart will now be "walking around outside of you" in two little bodies. And it's all good.

Chelle said...

Joanna,

I'm the middle child. My older brother was 11 when I was born and he wasn't thrilled about me. He even neglected to write about me in his school journal! The entry for the day that I was born is a day dream about a car chase. I was 2.5 when my little brother was born. My parents kept me super involved with the whole pregnancy process. We would have periodic family meetings to talk about him-what it would be like when he came, his name (I named him), etc. I remember when he was born that I missed attention and certainly acted out a little bit to get it (I drew on the walls in front of my mother while she was on the phone to get her attention) but overall, my mom says that it didn't phase me too much. As soon as Michael (my brother) was older enough to play, we did everything together. Having my brother so close in age made childhood magical and I'm so thankful for him. I'm sure every child is very different, but I don't remember it being traumatic. I hope that this helps!

Bradford said...

I was the baby for five years before my baby sister came along. I remember being excited about the idea. I told my mother, "I want a little brother, so I can wrestle with him." Well it was a hard adjustment loosing all of that attention, & I am sad to say I resented my little sister until I moved out & went to college! Haha. So, I have no idea what you should do. I figure you have two arms to snuggle them both. Use a baby sling to hold the baby & to keep your hands free when Toby needs you.

Mallory said...

My daughter was 2 1.2 when we brought home her baby brother. When I was pregnant she loved my growing belly. She talked to it. She kissed and hugged my belly. We talked about all the fun things she would get to do with her brother. How great it is to be a big sister. However, a few days into having the new baby home she lost it.
She would scream for hours at night. Not cry just scream. Nothing soothed her. We tried it all. She stopped eating. She is potty trained except she still wears pull ups to nap and bed. She would only poop in her diaper so I would change her like baby. If I left to go to the store without her she would grab my leg and BEG me not to leave her again. It went on for about two months. The weird thing was she never was mean to her baby brother. Infact, she gave him lots of hugs and kisses. She was mad at me. She was mad because I wasn't giving her my undivided attention. It is hard and it is an adjustment I am still working on.

What helped her the most was giving her tasks to do. Like having her get me a diaper, wipe. Watch her brother while I went potty. Asking her to pick out her brothers outfit. Little things she liked to do because she felt apart of it all. I took dates with her. Target or dinner. Just to talk. I bought a 'I Am A Big Sister' we changed all the names in the book to our names. She loved that! She loved feeling like that book was about her.

My one big tip is when he comes and meets the new baby if you can keep it just the four of you. When my daughter came to visit her brother so many people where in the room taking pictures and talking it stressed her out. Let the introduction be calm, peaceful and slowly. Take pictures of course. But let it be intimate. He will fall in love instantly.

sara said...

hi hi!
okay, at 210th in line here, you may very well not even see this but i'm going to throw my two cents into the conversation just in case!
our little girl joined us 7 months ago and i was also totally nervous about how integrating a new baby into the family would be.
i made my firstborn a book about his story - showing photos of my entire pregnancy, and tons of photos of him as a newborn all the way up the current time.
it helped SO MUCH being able to illustrate a pregnancy with *his* mama and not just an illustration in a book! and then all the photos of him as a baby gave us so much to talk about so he could understand what babies do and don't do and what he could expect. he was so interested in it because it was *his* story - and i think it helped a lot…

you can see it here if you're so inclined!
http://bonzochoochandme.blogspot.com/2012/02/book-of-bonz.html

xx sara

Chad, Carolyn, Kiley and Wes McVicars...and Shadow too said...

Our first loved being a big sister and wanted to kiss "her" baby all the time but she did start throwing more tantrums and whining more. Not sure if thats a product of sharing attention or being 2 1/2 (probably both). My husband had a cute story when his baby sister was born and he was just shy of 3, his dad brought him to the hospital, stopped at the nursery first (this was back when babies stayed more in the nursery) and asked him which one he wanted. He thought he had hand picked his sister until he was 6 or 7.

Caitlin said...

I am the oldest and my first younger sibling was born during a crazy blizzard. My dad had promised he would come get me so I could spend the first night with my mom, dad, and new brother- and though everyone in the hospital and my grandparents thought he was nuts, he did! I think I mostly only remember this by anecdote, but one thing I do vividly remember is how cool I thought it was that I got to sleep in a bed made of two chairs my dad pushed together. I was best buddies with both of my siblings from the start, my parents were extraordinary and made us all feel special, in little and big ways.

lillies & lattes said...

I'm not a mother. I am an older sister. Yes, I remember struggling with the transition. but she is my best friend, my anchor. Life is all about transitions but a sibling is steadfast.

Rachel said...

I don't like that wife analogy, because it doesn't take into account something that surprised me: my older son automatically adored his younger sister from the moment she was born, simply because she was his sister. Since everyone's always talking about how to prepare and soothe the older one, I was not prepared for the natural love they have for each other. I just try to build on and reinforce that.

That said, a funny thing happened the other day. My son asked, "What is the next one going to be named?" He just assumed there was going to be another! When I explained that it will probably be just the two of them, it took a while to set in. But after that while, he didn't say anything, but I saw on his face: relief. Lol!

1000x congratulations Joanna!

Syllogi said...

I'm five years older than my little sister so this may not be completely relevant. When my sister was born my grandmother stayed with us for the first month, and my main memory of that time is of spending time with her. As far as I was concerned, the baby was something keeping my mom tired and busy whereas I got to spend time with grandma! After a few weeks my mother had more time and energy for me, I had gotten more used to having a baby around, and life went on. I think everyone's focus on the fact that they are now a big brother/sister can be too intense or overwhelming for the older child, and it's nice to have something completely unrelated. My grandmother brought several new books to read to me and planned new craft projects.
Another thing I remember is that my parents would involve me in taking care or playing with my little sister by treating it as something they and I got to do together, as in "Why don't you and I give your sister a bath together?"
Of course when my sister got old enough to tag after me and steal my toys I began to feel entirely differently...

Found said...

Maybe it would help to keep him in the spotlight WITH the new baby, when he or she comes. My parents say my sister (who was three when I was born) didn't mind it because I was kind of like her new toy, and she liked being able to show me off. Because she was making the introductions as people got to meet me, she got attention too, and that made things easier.

Katelyn Baker said...

I am the firstborn of three girls, and I was 2 1/2 years old when my little sister was born. While I was too young to remember my exact emotions regarding her birth, my mom tells me I was absolutely enamored with my baby sister. I remember my parents getting me a doll, so I could change her and feed her while my mom did the same with my baby sister. I think that this kept our bond very close. In my mind, taking care of my doll was just as important as my mom taking care of Arielle.

From today's standpoint, I don't think any amount of thanking my parents would do justice to how I feel about my baby sisters. They are my absolute best friends, and any sadness I had (if any) when Arielle was born quickly dissipated as she got older and we became best friends.

Moral of the story? I think Toby will fall in love with his mini me. =)

Amy Ryland said...

We read so many books but the best advice we got was when big brother was coming to see baby for the first time in the hospital or at home neither you or your husband should be holding baby (we out baby in the hospital bassinet) that way both your arms are open to receive your older child and love on them. That way the first thing they see is that they are still important and mom and dads arms are still for them =)! Our son came running in for hugs but the first thing he said was "where's baby brother? Moooom, pick him up"! It worked beautifully!

Molly said...

I was 2 and a half when I met my triplet baby brothers. And even as I reach 30, people still feel compelled to say how hard it must have been for me as a toddler myself becoming the older sister to triplet boys. But it wasn't. What really was crucial that my parents recognized early on? The power of company. When you have your first child, it feels almost necessary to have intimate time with you, your partner and your brand new baby with minimal interruption. But with the second, having close friends or relatives (in particular young cousins or babysitters) there constantly, and on rotation, is ENTERTAINING for the older kid. I played Barbies with so many new people on a weekly basis that I got the attention I needed. And when they went to go hold a baby, I saw my mommy. It was nuts, but it worked.

chelsea said...

What a thoughtful idea your parents had!

Lucy said...

I'm three years younger than my brother. My mom always tells the story about how when I was born she spent even more time smothering him with love (in a good way!). Eventually he put his hand on her shoulder and told her, "Mommy, you have a baby now."

As far as I can tell he wasn't traumatised - we still get along :)

Kira said...

I'm 24 weeks pregnant and my daughter is only 16 months old so I can't really explain much to her. I feel really bad about that. We spend our days together just the two of us and then all of a sudden one day I'm going to have a tiny baby that is going to take up so much of my attention. We wanted our kids to be close in age so they can grow up playing together and be best friends, but I imagine it being very hard at first.

tahsinthegood said...

one, i don't know how you get through all of these comments! you are awesome.

two, as a mom of one expecting her second in may, i have been given the advice to make time for the first. like, when people come over and ask if they can help (parents, husbands, friends, etc.) ask them to help with everything except your older one. like prepping meals, cleaning, holding your newborn. any chance you can get with one on one time with your oldest, take it. the newborn won't miss you that much. (all they want in beginning anyway is milk and sleep!)

also, i have been pumping my girl up with "you're going to be a big sister!" phrases and so far so good... perhaps she's still too little to understand that one at 16months!

we'll see how it goes, but i'm with you. anxious about the change and how it will affect our current (and very awesome) dynamic and about missing out on time with my first baby.

hope this helps!

tahsinthegood said...

i love this! great advice. :)

Schenck cath said...

My son is turning 11 next month, he was 3 when his little sister was born. He was almost never jealous of her, and we remained close. Somehow, it was harder for me to bond with my new baby, it took me a while, but it happened gradually. My boy, much like your Toby I think got a lot of attention, plus he was incredibly smart, verbal and artistic. In fact, his little sister is the jealous one, and I have noticed that quite a bit, the second child being resentful of all the things the 1st child can do, all the attention he/she gets because of that, and the fact that they try to push away big brother or big sister away from mommy!
I was reading your post and thinking, why not refer to the new baby as your little sister or brother and not use the word "baby"
it will make it more real and let's face it, babies are boring to other kids, at least until they start laughing, and then big brother/bis sister always has an audience! Then you can discuss fun things to do with a brother, or a sister.
My daughter, almost 8, worships her older brother, who, well let's say tolerates it, they play together sometimes, still and have a lot of fun.
Last summer, we dropped my daughter at horse camp, and then my son kept looking around him for a bit, he said it felt weird but he was somehow looking for his sister all the time, he was actually MISSING her! ah!
Don't worry too much, and do not feel guilty, kids will pick up on it inevitably. I'm still very close to my pre-teenager, just yesterday, we cuddled under a blanket to work on his creative writing, it was great! (he goes to daddy for science!)
Everything will be fine, you are an amazing mom!! Enjoy your pregnancy!

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Elizabeth Fulton said...

I'm the oldest between my adopted brother and I - by eight years! (So, a bit different from Toby.) But nonetheless, I was so excited to become a sister! My parents talked often about how important it was that this little boy would now have a big sister - that it was such an important role (and not just in terms of helping out, but in terms of being his friend). And I felt that. But my parents were also great at asking (once my little brother came along) if I ever felt left out, ignored, etc, in addition to initiating their own times with me. My brother and I shared a room until he was about one and they were great at letting me sleep in their room or in the guest room when he cried at night and not giving me the role of the parent. I had my own role as big sister and I loved it. I still love it today.

Laura said...

When my little brother was born, my mom gave me a doll on the day we went to pick her up from the hospital. I called her "Baby Dear". That way, we BOTH had babies to look after!

alloallo said...

I'd love to know more about this too! As someone currently 21 weeks pregnant with boy/girl twins one of my biggest worries about the early months (in addition to all the logisitical stuff which sounds really crazy!) is the idea that I'm just not going to *know* or be able to be as close to either of them as my friends who are having singletons. I'd love to hear more about your experience as a twin, Jo, or maybe from your mom?

SidwellA said...

There are 18 months between my brother and I. I can't remember too much because I was so young then, but my Mum often tells me how she really got me involved with everything to do with my new baby brother... From sharing her excitement by showing me baby scans, getting me to talk to him while he was still in her tummy. After he was born she showed me how to hold him and would let me help her bathe him. I think this really helped me bond with Ben, rather than be jealous of him, and I think I enjoyed the sense of responsibility that came with 'helping' my Mum care for him. Hope this helps, although I'm sure you will do great whatever you decide :)

ArtBunny said...

Your not having a baby ....
Toby's becoming a brother
(and as such receives presents from his sibling)
:)

misssarahs said...

I don't remember much of the time shortly after my little sister was born, since we're only about a year and a half apart. But we have a photograph of me sitting on a snuggly blanket with the new baby's head in my lap, just shortly after she got home from the hospital. In that picture, I look curious and amazed rather than disgusted or angry. :)

What I do remember is that, when my parents went to the hospital and I couldn't come, they disguised it as a vacation for me, asking my uncle and grandma to look after me. I had great fun cheating my uncle at my favourite board game...

Also, I think some sibling-rivalry is natural and, at some point, will emerge no matter how good a parent you are. I remember sometimes thinking, in self-indulgent, dramatic moods, that my parents loved my sister better than me. A few years ago, little sister told me that she used to think the same, sometimes.

ashley canavan said...

My partner has written a children's rhyming story about a little boy who gets a new brother and it deals with the issue nicely. It is a sweet story with gorgeous illustrations. Perhaps Toby will enjoy it. You can read it for free online at http://maxslittlebrother.com/ (click on the book tab and it takes you to the book)

Hope you like it :)

Zala Letnar said...

For the time being I only have one child. But I am an older sister that did not take the arrival of a baby sister very well. I was four and as far as I remember my parents were great about it. My grandmother – not so much. It was all about – ‘you’ll see now, you won’t be the baby any more. You’ll see – now your room will not be yours any more’ and on and on. I had a really hard time welcoming my sister into the family and I often wonder if that is part of the reason why we just can seem to connect on a deeper level now.

Miss Stovetop said...

I haven't read all of the responses, so excuse me if you are reading something that has been mentioned before.

I think Toby's age is so perfect for him to understand and appreciate a sibling. You still have a few more months, and as your bump grows and baby becomes more 'apparent' with all the kicking and all, he will be more interested. Some of my friends said when they came back home with the new baby, the older one got a gift that was supposedly from the new baby, which worked wonders for a lot of people. One of my friends got her older daughter a doll that needs to be fed, pooped and rocked etc, which was great because the little girl wanted to do everything that her mommy did.

There will be moments of frustation and anger, of course. But if handled with care, they will not outnumber the better and more special moments that your kids will share over the months. I think from 3 month onwards, when the baby is a little more interactive, older siblings really love hanging around them.

Also, I don't know if it's only me, but I do not agree with the analogy that Leach has. The way a child perceives things is very different to an adult's perception. But then again, that's just my opinion.

Robin said...

I have no suggestions as I'm an only child and I have no children yet. However, this is what happened to a friend of mine, when his little sister was born. His parents told him that his sister was looking forward to meeting him, and wanted to bring him a gift when she arrived, so he should think about something he really wanted. He asked for a blue bicycle pump, and the last month of pregnancy he kept talking with the big belly, asking for it. When his sister was born, he was excited and he couldn't help running in the hospital showing everybody "the gift his little sister brought him"




, so she had to think about what she wanted

joana said...

hi, joanna!
i am an older sibling, my sister was born when i was 5 1/2 and i was very jealous for awhile... but with my mom and dad i always felt so happy and loved! there's a video of the day my sister was born, i'm very close to my mom asking her a million questions, you can see she's absolutely exhausted but she replies to every single one of them with a smile on her face and that sweet mom voice that she has :) i think toby's always going to be jealous, it's hard to share your space, your parents, your life, but in time he'll grow to love the baby :) from my experience you just need to keep giving him attention, even if not all the time, answer his questions, hug him, kiss him, and it'll be ok :)

joana

795andcounting said...

Hey,
just don't freak out too much! Even when there are days when Toby is seriously unimpressed with the new one it will pass. We tried to keep a similar routine, gave my older one lots of one on one time, but also read books altogether. It is a bit of a juggling act but slowly you are a neat little family unit not a new born and a confused toddler!

One thing I was prepared for was a feeling of grief I felt. It wasn't just Harper and I any more. I couldn't do everything for her and with her I wanted to. I felt pretty guilty all the time. But again with a bit of organisation and time that gets easier too. Now I just feel the regular kind of 'not doing quite enough' guilt!
We are all having great fun now though, Harper can't imagine life without Sylvie!

Abi from UK

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Beautiful Things said...

I'm the oldest with 2 brothers. Ever since I can remember, I was acutely aware that my mother didn't like me very much or really want me around.

My elder brother is just under 2 years younger than me so I can't ever remember a time when he wasn't around. My younger brother was an after thought - 7 years younger so I clearly remember my mother getting pregnant and my brother coming home from the hospital. At the time I remember being afraid that there'd be even less time or affection for me & how right I was. My mother made it very, very clear that the younger brother was her favourite. On many occasions when I was trying to get her attention she said to me, 'Oh go away you selfish little bitch. After all I do for you, you still want more. You've never thanked me for the things I've done for you, never.' In fact those 3 sentences became my overwhelming memory of her. I became quite a nasty rebellious teenager, (which increased her dislike of me, lol) and I hated my younger brother with a holy passion. After my mother passed away, my younger brother and I finally got talking. He had no idea of how pointedly my mother made her feelings known & he actually said that he understood why I hated him so much, which meant a lot. He's now my closest friend. We've been through so much together and I wouldn't swap him for the world.

Esme said...

I have 3 little boys and the first (he was 2.5) flipped when his baby brother was born. He would push him and give him dirty looks and you could tell he was just insanely jealous. It broke my heart. Despite all we tried to do, and all the attention we tried to give, it took him a long long time to accept him. For the first born, I think its exceptionally hard. I remember missing my first born too...we just didnt have as much time together. Its a transition time, which can always be hard. Lots of love for everyone is the best thing you can do...find those special moments every day to spend with Toby. All children are different, and Im sure Toby will have days that he loves his new sibling and moments of pure jealousy...accept his emotions with love, set limits on his actions and all will be well! My best advice is to find a nursing spot where Toby can join you...to read while you nurse or to just snuggle him a bit too. When you sit, he will want to be there too from time to time, and you want to say YES to him...keep him included.

Kari Browder said...

I just had my second child. My oldest is 2 and he's done pretty well. He hits the baby every once in a while, but for the most part he likes to love on Him. He was upset with me in the beginning for paying more attention to the baby than to him, but I've found little moments to connect with him. I'll go lie down with him for a little bit at night, or hold him while he watches a favorite tv show, or take him to lunch just the two of us, etc. I make a big deal of it too - that I want to hold him or just the two of us go out. It seems to have worked. It broke my heart at first, especially when he pushed me away. But as soon as he knew that he was still important to me, we were back to normal...a new normal :)

Melissa T. said...

My 3 year old son has been very sweet with his now 1 year old sister. Having a sibling brought out a funny/sweet/caring side of him that I had never seen before. What a delight!

He is her favorite person in the world. She often asks him to pick her up even thought they are similar in size.

Only recently since she started crawling and walking do they bicker. Now that she wants to play with his toys, their dynamic changed. It's a learning process.

Oddly, I noticed that I feel a little bit closer to my son, but I wonder if that's just because I've known him longer?

The best advice we got was to give him a gift when the baby was born. We told him it was a gift for him from the new baby We got him Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things that Go. It was a big hit and I think helped him start off thinking favorably about the baby.

gabrilea said...

As I dont have kids, hadrly can say something about it personaly, but I just want to say first, that first photo of Toby is just hilarious.

And second, have little example:

My cousin just got his second baby boy, and his first child is 3 years old girl. She was very thankful for little brother, but till the day he came home. Now (baby is about one month) she is little bit jealous, because mummy spending her time more with the baby. But they are really working on giving love for both of them and trying to deal with time problems. As example, cousin took one month vocations to help his wife and he spends more time with a girl, playing, talking about brother, how she feels and ect. But it is definitely hard at the beginning and I think it is normal.

Lauren said...

I'd say that it is important to keep the big picture in mind as well. I am an only child in my early twenties, and I certainly loved all the attention growing up. I was an extremely secure and high achieving child and I think that's mostly from my parents having just one. However, I have never wanted a sibling more than I do now in my early twenties. Recently my Mom was struggling with some health/mental health issues and I wanted nothing more than to have someone else in the world that also knew her as Mom. I wanted to pick up the phone and call someone and say, "hey, what do you think we need to do". Everyone is healthy again, but the experience has me convinced that I want to have more than one child if possible. I share an office with a girl who is one of four and it is hard not to be jealous of the level of support a large family provides. Of course there is more drama as well, but I believe you learn that your emotions are not always the only thing to consider much earlier on and that this is a great skill in life. Toby may not always like you now, but you are preparing him for the future.

Michelle said...

My two boys are 18 months apart. During my entire second pregnancy I was so worried about how my oldest would adjust. He had never liked it when I played or held other babies. Miraculously, the day we brought his little brother home from the hospital it was instinctual. He new the baby belonged to our family and was offering him toys, and smothering him in rough hugs and kisses. Although I am unable to give my oldest the undivided attention and special activities that we use to have, it has been a good experience for my husband to bond closer to him. Now that the baby is 6 months and they "play" together, we realize giving my son a sibling is the greatest gift we could ever give him. Seeing your two kids laugh and play together will give you a unique joy that warms you through and through.

Lindsay Erin said...

I can faintly remember going out with my grandparents to buy a gift for my new baby brother after he was born. When I went to visit him at the hospital, my parents presented me with a gift "from" my brother. To this day, my mom still thinks that it smoothed over transitional bumps well and helped build positive feelings about this new addition from day one.

The Mickelsens said...

One thing that my friend told me that worked great after the baby was born was when the baby was naturally ready to go down you said (I'll just use some random names) "Avonlea (the baby), I know you want to sit on my lap, but it's not your turn anymore. It's James' turn. I know you want to stay, but mommy wants to snuggle just with James. I'm going to have to put you down." Say it loud enough for the other child to hear. The first time I did this my child became super excited and she kept exclaiming "I get to be with mommy!" it worked wonders.

jona said...

I have an almost 2.5 year old son and a 2 month old daughter. I had the exact same anxiety and guilt but more for my daughter, that she won't have the undivided attention that her older brother had. But now I realize that she has something that my eldest didn't, an awesome big brother to entertain her! She loves watching him do anything!

As for my son, we prepared him by reading him a book about being a big brother and renaming the character after him (so it became the "Max book"). We also took a sibling class that they offered in the hospital where he got to hold a baby doll though I think the most helpful thing we got out of it was this coloring page of a family of four that we hung up near his changing table. We would have him identify all the people in the picture (mom, dad, Max, little sister) every time we changed his diaper. We also had him pick out a present for the baby (a doll) and then we gave him a toy that we knew he'd love "from the baby" the first time he came to see her. It also helps to have grandparents and friends shower him with attention during the early days when you're nursing the baby all the time!

hannah_byrd said...

I'm the younger sibling, but my mom says my brother had difficulty accepting my birth. My grandma helped my mom with Caleb (my brother) for a few days after I was born, and when she left, Caleb looked at my mom and asked, " When's her mama gonna come and pick her up?" My mom couldn't believe all the months of preparing him for a sibling had no effect!

My mom said that once he realized he could teach me how to use toys, and that I would laugh at all of his antics, he grew attached to me. She said involving him in the process of taking care of me, like getting the diapers to change me, really helped him feel like "big brother" was an important role. Also, he loved cowboys and indians, and he used to run in the kitchen and pretend to have a "shoot off". Much to his delight, I found him absolutely hilarious. : )

Nataliya said...

We are 15 weeks expecting baby #2. Our 1st will be just a month over 4 years old when the 2nd baby joins the family. A month after, the 1st one will go to JK. So, yes, I'm concerned on how the new addition will affect our older child.

I vividly remember hiding when my own younger brother was brought home from the hospital. I was a week shy of 5.

I also remember special times when my dad would take me on walks around the city to give my mom a break and to give me some undivided attention. I can still taste the croissant I remember having at a cafe while he sipped his expresso.

All this to say, while I am worried about my little girl, we have began to adjust our routines. Husband has taken over some of the things I used to do to give me a break during the pregnancy. Also, we play lots of games and talk about having a little one around. We went to visit friends at the hospital with their day old baby, just to give our daughter a reference point of where mommy's going to go when it is our time.

I do worry, how can I not. BUT many of my daughter's friends have a younger sibling and she's looking forward to having a baby all of her own.

This morning she woke up, ran into our bedroom, climbed on the bed and rubbed my tummy good morning. She asked how the baby slept. And THAT is what I'm going to focus on.

PS. I can't say I agree with the wife analogy. But that's just me.

Jessica Cole said...

I have a 4 year old and a 3.5 month old. My eldest is so sweet with his baby brother and the baby is such a good baby so doesn't annoy him too much. He kind of views the baby as a possession and it's his! Because newborns sleep a lot you might find that you still have time where Toby can have the one to one attention. You might find that he adores the new baby so it doesn't matter. I make my eldest do funny things to make the baby smile and laugh and so he feels important, needed and loved that way. As Toby grows up he will want to be a big boy and being a baby is almost an insult so "the baby would love to do that but can't until he's a big boy like you are. You are so big/smart/funny/clever" etc works wonders.

I remember not wanting a baby at all when my mum had my sister when I was 10. I came round when she was born. Then I was fine.

Bottom line is you don't know what kind of baby you will get. You could get a laid back baby who sleeps a lot. You may still be able to do breakfast dates etc. Worrying now will not change what will happen when the baby arrives. Enjoy the time you have left before the baby arrives. Take every day as it comes. Your family will change but will also adapt.

piskovatskova said...

I am older child by 8 years and the arrival wasn't traumatic at all. I was so exited about it! My mom told me laterly that she didn't expected me being so calm about my newborn sister.
Well, may be you should give Toby some duties (very simple, just to teach him to care about little one). Maybe he should join you in planning your new life. Ask his opinion about clothers and other stuff for newborns. Let him think he is really a part.

Annie said...

I'm a babysitter/nanny and one of 4 siblings. The best tricks I've ever learned, and which I've told the moms I work for, is to

1) Make exclusive one-on-one time with you and the older child. Get a babysitter to come handle the baby for a while, and take your older child out on a date. Toby will absorb the quality time more than the baby.

And 2) When the baby is born, give Toby a special present - for example, my sister bought her son a Thomas the Tank Engine train table - and tell him it's from the baby. He'll see the baby as a bringer of good tidings, rather than an enemy!

And don't fret if he ignores you or acts out. As traumatic as it is to you, it'll pass.

Living Notes from NYC said...

this is the very worry i had with each end every pregnancy. i am due july 6th , just 3 days apart from you :) ( and, hey! douches Catherine is right in there somewhere too!), and although every single time the new baby had come right into the flow, and everyone loved and adored him or her, i worried nonetheless. i found , though, that being young - as young as Toby is right now or even slightly older - is absolutely no problem. i worried so, so , so very much when we were adding our second one. she also ended up being a preemie, and i spent 2 weeks in nicu with her. goodness, i worried myself sick as to what it was doing to my then barely 2 year old. but he was SO loving and caring, more then i could imagine, wishing me to be with the baby, and then reading books to the baby and everything was about him taking care of the baby. the story repeated with every new one.it was and is every time heart-melting.

with this pregnancy, however, i have a completely new worry, much so confirmed after reading this post yesterday. i now will have the oldest and the youngest with a large gap. and while it was not a big deal up to about age of 6 or so, now the oldest will definitely remember the "before the baby" time and note the difference with "after the baby". how to ensure that he feels the same loved, or more? how to make his , still very young and little, mind understand that even if i spent 90% of the time with the baby, i love him ( well, actually, them - as the two oldest ones are close in age), to understand that they are loved more each day nonetheless? i linked your blog to my post - i hope you don't mind. if you do, please, let me know and i will remove it. and thank you again for your wonderful and honest post.

love, olya
www.livingnotesfromnyc.com

Noelle.eve said...

Hi Joanna, I read this blog post yesterday, and while it doesn't address your exact question, it does give an honest and sweet inside look into two little boys becoming brothers - and one mom's struggle and eventual relief.

http://motheringspirit.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/becoming-brothers/

Laura said...

I'm an older child. My sister and I are very close in age (only 17 months apart!) so I don't remember much about when she was very little. However, one thing that is still very special to me is the copy of Koala Lou by Mem Fox that my mom bought for me while she was pregnant with my sister. It is a story about sibling rivalry and a mother having to divide her attention, but not her love. My mom would sometimes repeat a line from the book to me in moments when she was busy with my sister: "Koala Lou, I do love you!" She read it to me every night, and after my sister was born, she continued reading it to me as often as she could. It was our book. She never read it to my sister, and when I moved out for college, she sent the copy with me.

My mother teaches young children, and reading has always been important to her, so I think that made the idea of having a bedtime story that I didn't have to share with my sister more special. There might be something else that is important to you that you and Toby could share through your pregnancy and into the rest of his childhood, but I would highly recommend taking a look at Koala Lou next time you're in the children's book department. It's worth it just for the beautiful illustrations!

Annie Green said...

Everyone worries about this, quite naturally. But once the baby is born, I bet Toby is thrilled. The new baby is abstract at present but a real baby is fun, squidgy, noisy and cuddly so what's not to like? Yes, he may find there are days when his nose is out of joint but then you can tell him that you remember how that felt yourself - wanting to go for a pee when he wanted dinner, tired of picking stuff up when you want to sit down - and let him learn the first great lesson of small childhood. It's not all about you. After all, you won't be sending him to the orphanage, will you? Just giving him another member of the family to love. Like he loves you. Chin up!

Diana said...

Don't worry too much!

The best part about seeing my two year old grow with the baby was how he took so much responsibility and loved that he was so important. Now, my son is only eight months and they LOVE playing together. My older son knows how to make my younger son laugh better than anyone!

lisacng @ expandng.com said...

Aw, sniff!

Laura said...

I'm an older child. My sister and I are very close in age (only 17 months apart!) so I don't remember much about when she was very little. However, one thing that is still very special to me is the copy of Koala Lou by Mem Fox that my mom bought for me while she was pregnant with my sister. It is a story about sibling rivalry and a mother having to divide her attention, but not her love. My mom would sometimes repeat a line from the book to me in moments when she was busy with my sister: "Koala Lou, I do love you!" She read it to me every night, and after my sister was born, she continued reading it to me as often as she could. It was our book. She never read it to my sister, and when I moved out for college, she sent the copy with me.

My mother teaches young children, and reading has always been important to her, so I think that made the idea of having a bedtime story that I didn't have to share with my sister more special. There might be something else that is important to you that you and Toby could share through your pregnancy and into the rest of his childhood, but I would highly recommend taking a look at Koala Lou next time you're in the children's book department. It's worth it just for the beautiful illustrations!

Amie said...

I don't have kids yet, so maybe my opinion doesn't really count...but from what I've seen - kids don't come out knowing anything. Everything they know or will know, they need to be taught. So, if the parent is excited, happy, enthusiastic, etc then that is what the child will pick up on. Of course, I do think there will be points when the older sibling might be a little jealous, & I think it's important to praise that child as much as the newest member. However, if the atmosphere created is one of excitement, anticipation, love & joy, I think that those "jealous" times will be short & in-frequent. Special parent/child dates are always a plus! That's how I plan on going about it anyways!

http://herestohappinesses.blogspot.com/

Nina Leung said...

We found that getting the older child very involved from pregnancy on really helped. He talked to the baby (belly), felt the baby kick, and understood that whatever I ate, the baby ate. We also brought him to the delivery with us! It was great! He was totally involved and saw the baby when he first came out. Our theory is if he stayed home during delivery he would be too surprised when Mommy finally comes home and has a new baby. I imagine that's pretty shocking. Being involved with the whole process, I think, made him more a part of it and feel like the baby was for him too.

Of course, my sister was there to help and get him involved and then we had a lot of family come visit a few days later (it was Christmas) and they gave him a TON of attention. He never had any problems with the new baby. He loved him from the start and was never weirdly jealous. He became very helpful, actually, and his behavior improved (no more tantrums!). I think he knew he had to be a good big brother now.

I hope this helps! It worked for us!



sara said...

hi hi,
you may very well not even see this but i'm going to throw my two cents into the conversation just in case!
our little girl joined us 7 months ago and i was also totally nervous about how integrating a new baby into the family would be.
i made my firstborn a book about his story - showing photos of my entire pregnancy, and tons of photos of him as a newborn all the way up the current time.
it helped SO MUCH being able to illustrate a pregnancy with *his* mama and not just an illustration in a book! and then all the photos of him as a baby gave us so much to talk about so he could understand what babies do and don't do and what he could expect. he was so interested in it because it was *his* story - and i think it helped a lot…

you can see it here if you're so inclined!
http://bonzochoochandme.blogspot.com/2012/02/book-of-bonz.html

xx sara

Mai Lowe said...

I am the younger child of 2 and my mom talks a LOT about how she prepared my sister for my arrival. My sister and I are best friends and have always been (despite the fights that we had when we were little kids). My sister had ALWAYS felt complete ownership and responsibility over me and my mom involved her in the process of expecting from the beginning. When I came out she felt that I belonged to her and that she had to be a big girl and take care of me, which she LOVED. I don't think siblings should at all be presented as some kind of loss to the child - it is an ADDITION and it is something new and special to him/her and to the family. Similarly, when the first baby arrives it is not really a loss of 1:1 time between the parents - it is just a change and it is an addition in many other ways. The first thing my sister did when I arrived was offer me her beloved, prior to that moment not to be parted with, blankey, which was a pure sign of love from her. My mom told me that she talked to my sister nonstop about my coming and about all the things she would get to do with me because she was such a big girl. It worked like a charm :).

I think the analogy to the wife is horrendous. A relationship between two spouses is SUPPOSED to be monogamous (at least in our culture) so that does not make any sense. A sibling/parent relationship has full allowance to be plural and in my opinion is BETTER in the plural (you don't want Toby growing up to be a Momma's boy incapable of fully understanding responsibility, sharing and all the other awesome things that come with having a sibling). That analogy would just make everyone feel badly/guilty and comes from the completely wrong perspective.

Mina said...

What a great idea!

Michelle Kendrick Hartney said...

I'm due in June with my second and understand your worries! Relationships change, is what I keep telling myself, and this is part of the evolution of our little family. I plan on reading books about new siblings and practicing with her baby doll. I remember very well when my younger brothers were born, and I adored them, and pretended they were my little babies, even though I was quite little too, but it was a real positive thing. I also remember my parents giving us siblings a present when each new baby came home, which made it special for us.

www.minipiccolini.com said...

One thing that ended up being a bit lucky for us is that I wasn't allowed/able to lift our older child at all during the last few months of my pregnancy. This meant that he got used to me not being able to do everything for him and he had to rely on Dad for some things. I hated it, but the great thing was that, when I wasn't able to be there for him 100% (and wasn't able to lift him because I had a c-section) after his little brother was born, he was used to it already, and he didn't really see it as being because of the new baby, so there was no resentment. Not that you should separate yourself from Toby prematurely, but it could be a good idea to already now let your husband take over some of those parts of Toby's care that he will be handling on his own after the baby comes...

www.minipiccolini.com

little t said...

I was born on my sister Fiona's 6th birthday. My Dad was on the phone to her that day and said 'We have a very special birthday present for you Fiona... a new baby sister!' He said she was super excited because she had wanted me to be a girl. Then she said, 'now what's my present?'

Elizabeth said...

I am new to your blog and I love it so far. I have a little guy the same age as Toby and I just had a new baby boy so I know your fears well because I just had them myself. I was even in the hospital room looking at old pictures of my first born and sobbing because I was so afraid of how the new baby would rock his world. I am happy to report that it has been a relatively smooth transition filled and he loves his little brother! I made myself so worried that I'm pleasantly surprised. It helped to be around other families with multiple kids so we could use them as an example. There are some instances of the older boy acting out, but more for attention and not at the baby. Good luck and I look forward to seeing it all unfold.

Alex said...

When my baby brother was born I was 2 1/2 years old and she solved the problem by buying me a baby "Cabbage Patch Doll" so that when she was taking care of the baby, I could as well. I also had a little sister when I was 9 and that was hard to deal with as well because having another girl in the family meant attention would be taken away. Turns out the older sis gets enough attention. :) I have heard that people give gifts from the baby to the older sibling and that creates a psychological bond as well. Don’t worry, it will all go well!

Elizabeth said...

I am new to your blog and I love it so far. I have a little guy the same age as Toby and I just had a new baby boy so I know your fears well because I just had them myself. I was even in the hospital room looking at old pictures of my first born and sobbing because I was so afraid of how the new baby would rock his world. I am happy to report that it has been a relatively smooth transition filled and he loves his little brother! I made myself so worried that I'm pleasantly surprised. It helped to be around other families with multiple kids so we could use them as an example. There are some instances of the older boy acting out, but more for attention and not at the baby. Good luck and I look forward to seeing it all unfold.

*** KITSCH *** said...

I only have a little boy of 3 years and i am looking forward to that moment! I wanna have my second child but my partner is not sure by now...How can i prepared my husband for another baby???? ha ha

Megan said...

Jo,
Have you ever read the blog "The Stork and the Beanstalk?" She is a mother of two and is hilariously honest about mothering her two little boys. I myself and not a mother, which may make it a little creepy that I follow this blog b/c she focuses so much on motherhood, but I so don't care...this woman has me rolling on the floor with almost every post. I love that she says things that are true, not what you want or expect a mother to say.

I really think you should check her out...http://www.thestorkandthebeanstalk.com/

Kate said...

I'm 5 years older than my brother. I remember the day he was born, but I don't really remember if I had jealousy issues after. My parents prepared me by getting me really excited to be a Big Sister. I also got a present the day he was born, which was a baby doll (I guess not so helpful when the first child is a boy!) and I remember thinking that it was SO AWESOME that I got a present just because my brother was born. My parents also had me bring a picture of myself to the hospital, and put it in my brother's crib that first night in the hospital so that he would "know who I was", and I remember that making me feel important.

I'll have to ask my mom how bratty I was once the excitement wore off, though!

Rebecca Silber said...

There's no right answer, because every child's personality is different. You can read all the books, hold all of the friends' babies, etc. in the world, but nothing will prepare your first child for when your actual new baby is in your arms. You will definitely lose the closeness you have with your first child, how could you not? You already know how much work babies are. But, over time, things calm down and you will find a new relationship with your first, kind of a metamorphosis from what you have now, not worse, not better . . . just different. Part of that is because your first child will, over time, become close with the new baby. They will be working on their own relationship. That is beautiful to watch.

Rebecca Silber said...

There's no right answer, because every child's personality is different. You can read all the books, hold all of the friends' babies, etc. in the world, but nothing will prepare your first child for when your actual new baby is in your arms. You will definitely lose the closeness you have with your first child, how could you not? You already know how much work babies are. But, over time, things calm down and you will find a new relationship with your first, kind of a metamorphosis from what you have now, not worse, not better . . . just different. Part of that is because your first child will, over time, become close with the new baby. They will be working on their own relationship. That is beautiful to watch.

Letícia said...

Hello Joanna!

I love your blog, really do so I don't want you to take my comment as a critic or as a bad thing. It is really just a comments, ok?

I'm from brazil and even having lived in the USA (NYC) for a while I will never understand the motherhood concerns american woman have.

Here in Brazil it is pretty simple: The kids in your family will love the new baby. They might get jealous at first but this is simply normal and after a while tehy will love the bother or sister they now have. There's no such thing as big concerns on - Oh what is the new baby gonna causa my older baby.

Family is love and even a toddler understands that. Accepting and lovinf the new baby is what they will do because that is how things work. End of the story.

I just don't get it!!

But anyways, I'm sure you are an amazing mom and that Toby is an amazing baby. He will love the baby, I'm sure!

Emily said...

I have two boys, almost 2 1/2 years apart. I remember feeling the same worries as any other parent, thinking my older son would have issues dealing with a new baby. So we made a few precautionary purchases: we bought him his own baby to take care of, and we came home from the hospital with a few presents for him from his new brother. Obviously every child is different, but I think making everything a positive experience for the child you already have is the best way to think about it - what does he love that would make him associate this new baby's arrival with happy memories?

The other thing we did, and I still do today (my boys are 10 and 8) is make sure that my older son got to stay up past his brother's bedtime. This insured that no matter what happened in the day, for a period of time (it's currently an hour) he gets to have time without his brother cramping his style. Now that they're older it also prevents bedtime fighting after the lights go out - since the younger one is always fast asleep when the older one climbs into the top bunk.

Clara said...

My mom did the same thing. It resulted in some rather funny photos of 4-year-old me pretending to breastfeed "Sweet Baby."

Clara said...

My mom did the same thing. It resulted in some very funny photos of 4-year-old me pretending to breastfeed "Sweet Baby."

Andrea Bilbija said...

My little sister was born when I was six, and I think the best thing my parents did to make me feel like I wasn't being pushed to the side was keep me involved in the process. They let me pick out the bed sheets for her crib, and some of her baby clothes. My dad also spent a lot of time with me while my mom was with my sister in those first few months, so I never felt like I was out of the loop. I know my aunt and uncle let my cousin pick out her baby sister's name--I think it helped her feel instantly connected to the baby!

rebekah leland said...

i read a great idea a few months ago, and i'm thinking about doing this-- when i have a new baby, my youngest child will get a new baby as well (a special doll) to take care of, and learn to take care of, while i take care of our real baby. we can take care of them side by side. i think this will work for boys, too, since caretaking isn't just a woman's job and i want to teach my son to nurture--fathers take care of children, too! plus, my son loves dolls. :)

Elizabeth Barto said...

I am not sure how normal this is, but several times in my life, nestled in the midst of dinnertime conversation my parents have related the the story of how my older brother adapted to the strange new addition to the family--i.e. me. My brother, who was two going on three at the time, was not pleased about the whole "new baby" idea. However, when I was born and he saw me he realized that not only was the new addition to the family was not a threat, but it was something that brought the family together. He claims to this day to have a distinct memory of holding me quietly--with my mother's support I am certain--and realizing that he could love me too. As far as getting along, my parents slowly integrated me into my brother's life when I was old enough to play with him. However they were careful to make sure that while we had opportunities to bond, he also had time to play alone, that we spent time all together as a family, and that each of us had some quality alone time with each parent. Naturally, while growing up we did bicker to an extent, my mother sternly reprimanded such behavior, always reminding us that as siblings we were meant to love and support each other. Our fights were few and far between, and when they did occur, after we had apologized to each other we were immediately thick as thieves again. To this day he is my closest friend in the world and vice versa.

studious said...

My mom and I would go do little things by ourselves. My dad would watch my littler brother and my mom and would go eat chicken sandwiches in the Wendy's parking lot. The best part was that I decided we "shouldn't tell" my dad about where we went, so I got to tease him about having a secret, haha. In retrospect, I'm sure my mom told him, but it was still so fun!

Emily Lauren said...

I'm an older child - and when my little brother was born I told my mom that we had to "return him" to the hospital and that the nurses would make sure he grew up just fine. I think as a child I resented the attention my brother got for a while (subconsciously) but I slowly grew out of it and realized he was my closest ally in life. Now I'm 23 and he's my best friend. I think things like adapting to a new family member when you're the oldest child have to occur organically, and when they do it's wonderful.

hazel said...

I'm pregnant with our second & some advice I've gotten:
1) remind first child that its their baby too
2) before tending to baby, make sure the first has 3 things: something to eat, something to drink, & something to play with (it might seem like overkill but it addresses their basic needs).

Melissa said...

njk

Melissa said...

At the ripe old age of 23 ;)... I am the oldest of 6 children, two of which my mother had when I was 15 and 18 so besides my self feeling the effects of new babies coming home, I also got to observe it as as an adult with my younger siblings.

No one ever showed signs of "jealous-ness". We got to be caught up in the excitement of a new member of the family coming home too. Its not just your baby, its Toby's new baby brother- it can be just as exciting for him as it is for you!

Mad Max and Family said...

My son is 2 and my daughter is now 3 months (22 months apart) ... I REALLY worried about that too. It went AMAZINGLY well. Of course every child is different though. From what I hear... I think he's still young enough that jealously won't be too much of an issue.

How did we prepare Max? I ordered lots of Big Brother books. He LOVED them. I started talking a lot about his sister, Sadie. He knew right where she was once my tummy was big enough. Once we started buying things for her / getting things ... I would show them to him. I think the biggest things though were to read about it and talk about it. Once I got really big he loved to use my tummy for his race track - hah. Once we were closer to her arrival, I started talking more about what was going to happen - hospital stay, Sissy's birthday, etc.

I was SO looking forward to seeing his reaction once she came. It was a bit less dramatic than I hoped - he was too excited about his Fire Truck toy I got him! Definitely get him gifts for the hospital. He also stayed w/ my parents, and he had a note and small gift from us for each day.

Oh, and my hospital also had a "big sibling class" so he learned how to hold a baby. It's amazing how easy the adapt though.

-Tara

http://madmaxandfamily.blogspot.com

Olivia said...

I have a younger brother, 5 years younger than me...and his birthday is two days after mine. Needless to say, my 5th birthday was not exactly all about me. However, (though I was older than Toby will be) my parents prepared me by telling me all about the new baby and how, because I was going to have a little brother, I got to be a "Big Sister." They read me stories about big sisters saving the day and helped reassure me that even though they might have to focus on the baby more than me, it was my job to keep him safe as well. It was a really great way to bring him into the world. I still feel protective over him now even though we're both older and settled and I swear its because I started off knowing my place in the family. I definitely recommend telling Toby how awesome it'll be to be an older brother! Kids love jobs and labels. It makes them feel like big kids so any responsibility they get they'll run with it. :)

I'm so excited for you all and the new baby, everything will turn out great I'm sure!

isabel said...

my son is about to become two in two weeks and i'm pregnant too (11 weeks). he doesn't get the idea of a new baby so we will just have to wait and see i guess and still give the first all the love he needs, our hearts are big enough for that! :)

x

www.mamajulesbrussels.blogspot.com

amy said...

I was four when my parents adopted my sister, and I only really remember jumping up and down on the couch shouting "I'm gonna have a sister! I'm gonna have a sister!". On the other hand, when my boyfriend's baby sister was coming back from hospital, he bit her on the forehead on the way home- I guess my point is first impressions don't always last! there will always be resentments but also crazy deep love- don't worry!

amy said...

I was four when my parents adopted my sister, and I only really remember jumping up and down on the couch shouting "I'm gonna have a sister! I'm gonna have a sister!". On the other hand, when my boyfriend's baby sister was coming back from hospital, he bit her on the forehead on the way home- I guess my point is first impressions don't always last! there will always be resentments but also crazy deep love- don't worry!

Traci said...

Here's your answer. The original, one and only best book to read your child when a baby's on the way:
http://www.amazon.com/Baby-Come-Out-Fran-Manushkin/dp/1887734716/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1360156168&sr=1-1&keywords=fran+manushkin

David Moynihan said...

My advice would be to really involve the 1st child in the life of the second child - they can help change nappies, 'decide' what to feed them or dress them etc. They love it.
And hang out with friends who have more than 1 kid while you are pregnant so that Toby starts to crave a little sibling gang of his own!

Vervevoraz said...

I was 8 years old when my mom delivered my younger sister. I did not received any kind of special attention, but was kind of a little helper with the baby. The strong sense of responsability was kind of special. However, I was extremaly jealous of the baby and kind of hate that noisy little creature that invaded my bedroom and steal my parents...lol... :)
Nowadays we are best friends and love each other so so much. My parents weren´t quite ready to prepare me, I get it now. I think that make sure Toby is included in all the process (including decorating the baby space) and telling him that they we´ll be best buddies help a lot. And, of course, special moments with him, without the baby, just to show him that he will always b your special little guy. My mom call me "her first true love" and I really like it =)

Sammi said...

my best friend's eldest daughter was absolutely ecstatic when her mum got pregnant, and so excited to have a sister. now they are 4 & 8 they fight over toys like crazy, but when she was first born hannah wanted to cuddle her all the time & feed her too. she was very excited.

when i was a kid (and i am adopted) and social services phoned my parents to say there was a baby for them if they wanted him; they asked to speak to me & i told them under no circumstances did i want a brother or sister. i was three years old. hahaha.

all kids are different.

LaurelAnne said...

I definitely think that "dates" with the older child with your undivided attention makes a huge difference! My daughter and son (now that he's older) still love these!

kristyrocksnewyork said...

I, too, am an only child and echo what foreverambie is saying. I am, to this day, extremely close to my parents, and have a fantastic relationship with them, even though we live 300 miles apart. However, as I get older, there is something particularly lonely about not having siblings. Sometimes, I fast-forward 30 years and imagine what life will be like after my mom and dad are gone. I can't help but see my friends enjoying their nieces and nephews, and large extended families and know that likely, I will never have that. Don't get me wrong...I have treasured my childhood immensely, and I do believe that being an only child has helped me become the person I am. I am well-adjusted, independent and have always been mature for my age. But I do consider people with siblings to be extremely lucky. A brother or a sister is an instant, life-long best friend...someone with whom to experience life. Grow older. Share family secrets, traditions, stories. It's a relationship that can't be replicated or replaced by any other. Toby is one special little dude, and he'll be a great big brother- and a great friend- to the new baby :)

Sarah M said...

I took my son to a siblings class at the hospital. He learned how to hold the baby properly, swaddle, watched a video, made a cool onesie for his new brother and got to go up to the nursery to see the new babies. He really enjoyed it and I did too.

I definitely think spending time with Toby alone will help too. It's tough but try to make it happen.

When we go visit a new baby that has older siblings, we take a gift and also a gift for the older sibling as well. That seems to help, at least momentarily. Things might be tough at first but will all work out. Best of wishes!

Lomagirl said...

I think don't make too big of a deal about it- that is, don't expect him to have a problem. My 2 year old daughter didn't freak out when her brother came along- she was pretty young at that point- and then at 8 and 6, the third child was received totally differently. I told my 6-y-o boy that people asked if he was jealous of the baby, and he had no concept of this- like, why would he be?

Lynden said...

When our second of three boys was on the way I was so excited. And secretly so scared!! I didn't ever know how my little one and only would be able to get enough live, time and attention after the baby came. I anticipated, googled and prepared as much as I could for that entire pregnancy. And then when the contractions came, so did the tears. I cried the entire drive to the hospital.

And when my big boy came to the hospital to meet his brother, it was pure love. The oldest got his present from the baby which was a bag filled with fun little things as a peace offering, if you will. And he was wearing the 'big brother' t-shirt that we had made prior. All fell into place and we figured out our roles as the days went on. And we still are today. You roll with the punches. Good luck!

Lyndenlaundry.blogspot.com

Marie-Eve said...

When I got my second son, my older one was 2 and a half. We told him we would have a new baby but the moment he truly understood it was when we took him to the sonogram and told him that it was a bow named Edward. For the rest of the week, everywhere he went he carried around the sonogram picture to show everyone ! it was adorable !
When I gave birth we bought a gift from the baby to my oldest son to give him at the hospital. He was pretty happy to have a little brother, but the first month was a big adjustment for him et we got to handle many tantrums ! And for the first year, at least once a month either my hubby or me took him on a date whatever it was so he could have some alone time ! They now are 2 and 5, and we kept that tradition for both of them, so they both can have alone time with us. They really love it a lot !

Nicki Grover said...

I am an older sister by two years and the close age gap enabled my younger sister and I to have a very close relationship. (I'm 16 while she is 14, 15 on Sunday!)
I don't remember ever having to fight for attention from my parents as I guess I just understood that with a new baby around, Mom would have to spend quite a bit of time with her. In fact, my mother said that I assumed older sister responsibilities fairly quickly such as getting nappies or wipes. She even said that I would sit with my younger sister acting as though I was the Mother, not letting anyone touch her. My protective instincts came in pretty quickly (at the age of 2? ha!)

Anyway, I guess I am trying to say that each child reacts differently. I am sure Toby will be a great big brother and if he reacts badly, give him 'big boy' responsibilities which will not only help you out, but make him feel included and not as though your affection for him as been directed towards someone else entirely.

Goodluck!

Stephanie Zacharda said...

I'm a fairly new Momma to a pair of girls, my oldest 2 and youngest 7 months. I had the same concerns: What if I don't love the second one as much? What if my oldest resents me? With a million other transitions we had going on at the time - see http://momneedsahand.blogspot.com/2012/10/my-life-is-whirlwind.html

I've found that the sibling love goes in phases, though generally, Edie loves her little sister. She is generally a good helper, especially when asked to "help Mommy". At the beginning, she could kind of care less that the baby was even there. As she started to get more vocal and need my attention more, big sister tended to have some jealous tendencies.

It helped me to spend special time, even if it's only 5 minutes reading a book, with Edie to set up a good loving Mommy time at the beginning of the day. She's pretty independent and often has to do things on her own while I nurse or do a wide variety of other things on my list.

Also just don't be too hard on yourself. Things will never be the same after this baby comes...and ultimately you're giving your little guy have a sibling, which is the best gift. Give yourself time, without either of the babies, and know that you can get through anything - just take it one day at a time :) Congrats on growing your family!

Emily Nelson said...

When my mum first told me she was having another baby, I stormed out of the room, yelled at my parents "how could you do this to me" and sobbed in my room for ages. I was 11 years old!! But had gotten used to being an only child. That said, I remember being excited over my mums growing belly and feeling (and seeing) the little kicks. When my sister was being born, I had to wait in a room and watch tv. I was really nervous. Then a nurse came in a got me and put my new born sister straight in my arms. She wasn't even cleaned up yet!! It was really amazing and of course I loved her straight away. She was born 2 weeks before my birthday, which took a little attention away from me on my birthday... but I think it was ok. I was really close to her and cuddled her and played with her lots and just enjoyed being around her and watching her. I remember all of the early stages of her growing up so clearly.
The only time I really got very jealous was when she was starting school and I was at the end of school and a teenager. My mum and I would fight so much and she was the sweet little angel and I hated that and felt really isolated from the family. But now that I'm 25 and my sister is 14... I'm the favourite who is helpful and friendly and she is the one who fights with mum and has teenage attitude. So it balances out.

I'm so close to my sister, she's like a best friend (even with the big age gap). I'm also very close with my mum again... So, I think it's the teenage years that you may feel a rift between you and your kids! And then when they grow up a bit again, you will find the connection again.

Elisheva and Tamar said...

I'm not sure if someone else already said this, but I know what made the biggest difference when I had a second child (my older one was 2 and a half when his sister was born) was to tell MYSELF that I was doing him a HUGE favor. I have three siblings myself, they are the closest people to me in the world and I do not know where I'd be without him. Growing up it wasn't always easy, but it was sooooo worth it. This way I stopped feeling sorry for my son, and he felt there was nothing to feel sorry about, b/c he was receiving a huge gift for his whole life. Change the way you look at it, for sure.
We also told him it wouldn't be easy all of the time, but pointed out brothers and sisters he knew (like his cousins, for example) and said it will be like in their house. So he had a general idea it could be fun.
And lastly, 2.5 years was a very possessive time in his life ("it's MINE!") so we played off of that and told him the baby was going to be ours, and his friends can't touch it. That made him happy:)

Johanna said...

My babies are 15 months apart so it was a pretty abrupt change. For my eldest, we didn't go into a heavy explanation. We patted my belly a lot and would point to it calling her sister by name. And that summer we spent a TON of time together - I think it was to make up for my mother's guilt so I empathize with how you're feeling.

Now her sister is almost 6 months old. I take the big sister out on regularly schedule weekly dates despite a heavy work schedule. We also do Saturday swim classes together. I feel closer to her than ever. When the baby is sleeping...I make a point to disconnect completely and snuggle up with her.

It's not about the quantity of time you spend with your little - it's the quality. Not a new notion but one that I discovered really rings true. Just wait - it will warm your heart when you see Toby act affectionate to the new baby. There is so much in store!

Lindsay P. said...

My mom recently admitted to me that when I was born, she and my dad tried very hard not to fuss over me when my older brother was around. They saved there bonding and doting time with me for times when my brother was playing with friends, or taking a nap, or after they had put him to sleep for the night.

I obviously don't recall feeling neglected or unloved, and my brother still got to feel like he was #1. They said he even began to encourage them to include me more, which I thought was sweet.

Brandy Serrano Gallegos said...

I have three children and my best advice is "when they are both crying attend to the oldest, they will remember!"
No matter what happens don't worry-it will all work its self out because you love him so much to ask.

rebekah tatlow photography said...

Before my sister arrived when I was four, I had an imaginary friend. The same one as my uncle I found out when I was sixteen, some find that creepy I kind of find it comforting, we grew up in the same house. I wasn't a lonely child I had real friends who were the same age and cousins. He left, to go to another family (my words) the day my baby sister came. I remember being so over protective of her I walked with my hand over her pram, making it difficult for anyone to push it. Also I referred to her as MY baby not my baby sister. I don't think you need to worry about Toby though, he has aunties and uncles who show him that having a sibling is the best thing EVER! It's alright having your parents to yourself but when you have a sibling you have a co-conspirator :D

LMT said...

My son was 27 months old when our daughter was born. We read a lot of "The New Baby" by Mercer Mayer and "Franklin's Baby Sister" by Paulette Bourgeois - over and over and over, at his request. He loved both books tremendously and although I cannot ever know the direct impact they had on him, he was very happy to welcome a new baby into our family and never had any sort of adjustment period or resentment.

rmforde said...

I always remember this blog post about having baby number 2. I found myself re-reading it with new eyes now that we're thinking of trying for another baby.
http://lovelydesign.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/new-days.html

Finley said...

We're in the same boat. Just had our second boy when first was just 2.5 yrs old. He's been WONDERFUL. We talked about the new baby and he went through a phase of saying he wants to be the baby, but once #2 arrived, big brother was very loving and protective. I think it's because we prepped him, included him, and still gave him individual time. He had a hard time for a couple days when I was recovering from surgery. No acting out, just sadness. So I made it a point to have morning cuddle time with just him. He got over his sadness quickly.

Best advice I have: give Toby a gift from the baby. Somethinghe would REALLY love. For my son, we bought him a small desk w magnetic alphabet. He was so excited to get something from his brother when everyone else was buying the baby gifts.

... said...

You should buy a used copy of "Mister Roger Talks With Parents" on Amazon. (http://www.amazon.com/Mister-Rogers-Talks-With-Parents/dp/1566193141/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1360623090&sr=8-3&keywords=mister+rogers+talks+to+parents) He talks through ways that families can approach a variety of big life changes, in addition to giving general guidance. He is so wise, and the book reads as if he's talking directly to you. It's a great resource, and it's also quite comforting!

... said...

When I was born my dad took my sister to the toy store and let her picked out a stuffed animal. She still has her snuffleupagus twenty-something years later! We also got to pick out a doll when my younger sister was born - it made me feel so special to get a new toy AND a new sister :)

Hena Tayeb said...

We are thinking about adding another little one to our family.. my son is around the same age as Toby and I am already worrying about this.

Erin said...

he is way too young, he will not remember the transition at all. My 4 year old sometimes believes me when I tell her that she and her 2 year old sister are actually the same age, and twins no less. They are soul mates.

Meryl said...

I just found your blog yesterday and I'm already a fan!

When I was still pregnant with my son, I started referring to all my daughter's stuffed animals as her babies and would hold them and even swaddle them like babies. She caught onto the game quickly. There were times when she'd throw a "baby" on the floor and I'd always quickly say, "Oh, don't do that to a baby! You need to be nice and gentle. He's your baby brother." She got it. At one point, I started watching some episodes of "A Baby Story" with her, too. It got her used to what the hospital looked like and during the birth scene, I'd always get her excited when they panned to the new baby.

When my daughter came to the hospital room, she made a beeline for me and our new addition, jumped on the bed, and said, "Hi, baby!" She then proceeded to use the gentle touches she had practiced on her stuffed animals on her baby brother. It's been over eight months now and she still hasn't felt much jealousy. We involve her by having diapers within her reach to help us and when her brother is on the floor for tummy time, we encourage her to play with him by getting him toys and showing him how to play with them. She even knows how to make him laugh with funny faces, something she picked up on and not anything we ever meant to teach her! My son shows so much excitement when he sees her now, it's unreal.

I think it's a matter of showing your older child individualized attention, especially when your newborn is asleep (which is all the time anyway) and having him feel helpful and involved with the new baby.

E. Pinheiro said...

Hi dear. You don't know me, I'm from Brazil, specifically from Rio, I'm a mother of two awesome boys (2 and 4) and I love your posts. Tell me: do you really have time to read all these messages???? For I still don't know if the quantity of ideas really helps you understand what to do with Tobby or if it is a relief for a mother's mind (verybody's like me). I just have to say that nature is wise; another wife is totally different from another friend, somenone who'll help Tobby grow happy and healthy, who'll teach him to laugh even when he wants to cry. A brother/sister who will love him ABOVE all. If you tell him so, everyday, little by little, he'll understand when the time comes. And it is always wise to remember that people like to be flattered, so tell Tobby he's the best big brother, he's the cutest one, tha the baby is really lucky to have HIM as a brother. And to cheer him up, pretend the baby brought him his very best gift when it is time for birth. My older son, Ian, got so much happy when he saw Tito (my little one), beside me, with a very huge gift labled "for my best brother". And he was only 2 at that time!!!!! All the best. Ethel

Rachel Elizabeth said...

I'm the oldest of five children. My first sister was born when I was two. I don't remember my reaction to her when she was born, but I absolutely loved helping with each of my siblings. Each of us are about two years apart so I had and still have a very different relationship with each one, but I don't remember feeling jealous. It was fun to watch our family grow and I learned so much about interacting with and supporting others just by growing up with siblings. Also, when my littlest sister was born, my brothers adored her and were very protective of her even when she was baby.

I think that baby will probably mean something very different to Toby when there is a child in your arms.

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Unknown said...

three things that might help (learned from an older child herself)

1. make time to involve your older one with the younger - 'mummy's helper' and a 'big brother' with lots of praise in helping too! This will allow the older to develop new skills, while feeling involved and building a relationship with the sibling. Getting lost in the time it takes to get the baby out of the bath and into the cot can overlook some of the most special times where your older one can help out and feel involved.


2. making the comment 'you had this time with me when you were little too!' to an older child who wants attention over the newborn often only reenforces the feelings of wanting mum's attention, and more importantly can be interpreted as if should feel ungrateful for wanting mum's affection in the first place.


3. ask friends visiting the hospital to bring something for toby when they visit!! Seriously this is a big one. i distinctly remember some friends who visited us when my sister was born , and with them they bought two toys, a little one for my newborn sister, and a bigger one for me. I felt super noticed and loved and comforted that day, because i got the bigger toy too (silly in kids terms but that's how they measure it!). Maybe you can also have a special cake at the baby shower for toby to blow out, so he feels super special too.

Hope this helps,

Sarah

Elly Marie Davis said...

Apparently, when my mom went to the hospital to have my younger sister, I stood at the top of the stairs, looked down at her best friend (who had come to take care of me while my parents were at the hospital) and screamed I DONT WANT IT!!!

but now my younger sis is my best friend, and I can't imagine life without her. So I think the period of adjustment can be hard for everyone, but it is very very worth it in the end. And Toby and the new little one will be close enough together that they too, hopefully, will become good friends as they grow up!

s. said...

Hi Joanna! I didn't read through all of the comments in detail, but thought I would add a suggestion to the mix (late, of course). Last year at this time I had a 2.5 year old son, a new house, a baby due July 8th and a stress fracture in my foot, along with a full time job. It was really overwhelming and the stress fracture on top of already being uncomfortably, hugely pregnant was just too much. I had to cede a lot of things to my husband, and the hardest thing to let go was time with our son. I couldn't bend over any more to give him baths, nor could I handle him in the shower with me. I couldn't carry him anywhere and by the time bedtime rolled around I was usually so tired and sore that laying down with him like was our custom just wasn't working. I reluctantly handed most of the night and morning routines with him to my husband and as it turns out, it was the best thing we could have done for our family. I had been doing less of his routine than usual already, so it was a gradual change for him from mostly Mommy to mostly Daddy helping him with various things, which meant that when the baby arrived there was no sharp transition from "Mommy is all mine" to "Mommy is feeding the baby every 5 minutes." Because he had already adjusted to more time with Dad, he didn't feel neglected by me and was able to enjoy the baby more and focus on the needs that are inherent with a newborn. It definitely involved some grieving on my part - I really missed spending all that time with him, especially since it was the final months of just being us 3 - but as our daughter has gotten older, we have transitioned back to dividing our time between the kids and it has been so much easier than I feared.

If you can (because I know it is hard), transition some of the day-to-day stuff to your husband now, before the baby arrives. It really helped our son to separate the decrease in Mommy time from the arrival of our daughter which I think led to his almost total lack of jealousy of her. Best of luck...two is tons of work but so much fun.

Stephanie Loudmouth said...

I don't remember this, of course, but my sister was born when I was two and apparently I was a nightmare. My mom said I used to hit her while she was trying to nurse so she'd have to keep a wooden spoon under her leg! I'm worried about the same thing now that I'm about to have my first, and my man and I are trying to figure out when we'd want to have our second. He says two years, I say four years so we've settled on three.

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