I always knew that I wanted more than one child. Ava would eventually become an older sister to a little boy or girl. Before children, I never really gave it much thought with how much of an emotional journey it would be bringing in another addition to the family. (More on that at another time.) There were definitely things that we did to help prepare Ava on welcoming her new little sister. We wanted the transition of a family of three to family of four be as smooth and painless as possible. (Yep, there were definitely adjustments!) It actually wasn’t as bad as I anticipated it could be and I do think that preparing your child for their new sibling is a must.
1. Talk about the pending arrival of the little sister or brother
Throughout the pregnancy we talked about the baby in “mommy’s tummy.” I knew that she was too young to really understand the concept about what was going on so I would try to keep it simple. If we saw another child with a sibling, I would say things like “Look Ava you are going to have a little sister too.” I would try to emphasize how exciting it was and really keep it positive. With her age, she was too little to go into detail with how much everything was going to change.
2. Baby Dolls Baby Dolls Baby Dolls
Now, Ava did play with baby dolls a little before but I guess you could say we encouraged it even more now. I would get down on her level and show her how to burp the baby or how to feed the baby. I would use simple terms and do simple things to show her how we would interact with her new sister. I would do these activities when she was interested in playing with her baby doll and never forced or pressured her to play with her baby doll.
We decided to give her a baby doll when the baby was born. This would allow her to care for her baby like mommy cares for her little sister and it was a new doll, therefore hopefully creating some more excitement. There were so many dolls to choose from it can be almost overwhelming. I had narrowed it down to the Baby Alive Baby Go Bye Bye and the Waterbabies Giggly Wiggly Babies. We ended up choosing the Waterbabies Giggly Wiggly. What I looked for in the baby was DURABILITY and I wanted the baby to have a bottle. The baby is all plastic so Ava can take the baby outside and in the bathtub. It cleans very easily and is small enough for Ava to carry around. She loves her little baby!
3. Limit Major Changes
I knew that we were heading into the terrible twos when her little sister was coming. Entering the big 2 already presents its own challenges and having another baby can add to it. It is common for children to regress with the addition of a sibling so I knew that I was not going to do two things. 1. Potty train and 2. Transition to a toddler bed. I do not know why but those were two milestones that people frequently asked about. Ava was going to be only twenty months old when her little sister would come a long. I felt like she was too young to rush things and I did not want her to regress once her little sister came. Ava was not showing any interest in potty training and she loves to sleep in her crib. Plus, the one thing I had to do was move her to another room. I thought that was going to be enough change and I was actually pretty anxious about how she would do in her new room.
Sometimes we have no control with the amount of change that can occur when a new baby arrivals. You might have to move or get a new job, etc and what I have found is that kids are more adaptable then you may think. Just know that you are doing your best and remind yourself to take a deep Breathe. Everything is going to be ok. :)
4. Have something in the new baby's room for them
So I wanted Ava to have something to do in her little sister’s room for when I was in there with the baby. It just happened to work out that I was able to get my hands on a doll changing table and I had a little rocking chair downstairs. These items were absolutely PERFECT for Ava and it really works out great! The changing table matches the room and is right near the changing table for the baby. It has plenty of space for baby dolls clothes, etc. I placed a few blankets and newborn diapers in her changing table and the little rocking chair right next to it. I can’t even express how happy it makes my heart when I am feeding Addy in her room and I see Ava with her baby. She is a mini mama and uses that changing table and rocks in her chair all the time!
All these little things, I truly believe helped make things easier for Ava. If you are expecting another baby, I hope this helps in making the transition easier. Good luck and know that you are doing great! You got this, mama!!!