Becoming a Big Brother or Sister

Becoming a Big Brother or Sister

My daughter was about seventeen months old and still nursing when we found out she would become a big sister. She was nine days shy of being two years old when her baby brother was born. Our pregnancy was not planned, but was welcomed, though all I could think about was my sweet daughter poking the newborn in the eye and proudly saying, “Eye!”

We made sure her routine was not changed when he arrived; grandparents came and stayed at our house to make this easier. We let her be the first person other than mom and dad to meet her baby brother; she was excited to meet him and constantly loved on him. Once we brought him home we made sure to give her plenty attention anytime he was sleeping.  It did not hurt having a birthday just nine days after he was born, either. We made a big deal about it, and she loved the day being all about her.

We let them interact together under close supervision on the floor. She got to give lots of kisses, give him toys, or help mom get a new diaper. You could tell he adored her from the start.

If you’re worried about the arrival of a new baby and how becoming a big brother or sister will affect your older child, here are some tips to make the transition a smooth one:

  • Go through your child’s baby pictures with them and explain that they used to be a baby, too. Tell them stories about things they did when they were a baby.
  • Read developmentally appropriate books about childbirth/new babies with your child.
  • Visit friends or relative who have new babies with your child to help them get used to the idea and learn how to act around and treat babies.
  • Take your child to a doctor’s appointment so they can hear the baby’s heartbeat.
  • Make a space low enough for your child to reach with baby things like diapers, wipes, extra baby clothes and toys, so that they can help you with diapers changes or retrieving baby items.
  • Keep books or toys near your nursing/feeding area that the older child can play with during feedings. Don’t feel bad about using the TV or iPad to keep your older child entertained during feedings, either. There will come a time when you don’t have to do this as much.

I think the hardest time for her (and me) was when I nursed the baby and really could not play with her. I used the TV so that I could make it through a feeding without having to clean up a new mess. She chose these times to get into something she was not supposed to, a cry for attention when she knew I could not focus on her alone.

Today she is just over three and he is fifteen months. I get so much joy from listening them play together. The best sound is the belly laughs–they can get each other laughing over the smallest things. The tables have turned now; I am now worried about him poking her in the eye and saying, “eye.” I am so thankful for my blessings and that she became “the Big” when she did.

Kristen Beggs is a mom of two who enjoyed watching her daughter transition from being the only child to the big sister.

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