Mekonen is incredibly sweet about the coming new baby, but he really doesn't know what it means or how it will change him being the only one who gets our attention. He runs into the baby's room and points to the crib and bassinet and says, "Baby nigh-nights!!" with great excitement. He also says, "Baby in carseat!!!" when pointing to the infant carrier. When you ask him where the baby is, he points to my belly and says, "kiss it!!!" Then gives my belly a kiss, right on my belly button. But really, he has no idea what this all actually means. :) If you ask him whether Mommy is going to have a baby girl or a baby boy he ALWAYS says, "baby girl, baby girl." Maybe Mekeonen knows something we don't! :)
We've been talking about ideas to help prepare Mekonen for his new baby brother or sister. On top of talking about the baby and such, here are several ideas we came up with along with suggestions from friends who have already traveled this road!
1. Exchange gifts! Get a gift for your older child from their new brother or sister and give it to them at the hospital. Have your older child pick out a special gift for their new sibling, like a stuffed animal or a book. We chose for the baby to give Mekonen two stuffed dinosaurs. He is currently obsessed with dinos (as he calls them). We think he will really get a kick out of these.
He will also go crazy over the fact that there is a car on the gift bag...another one of his first loves. :)
2. Make a special feeding basket! A lot of time is spent feeding a newborn, which typically leaves mom unable to really play with and give attention to an older child. Get a special basket filled with new toys, books, and/or videos, and take out the special basket only when it’s feeding time.
Mekonen will love this! It has all new stuff in it he's never seen before. He's all about the alphabet and sounds right now so there's a Vtech alphabet toy, Elmo and Sesame Street coloring book and sticker book, construction vehicle gel clings that stick to the walls, fridge, etc. (He loved the snowmen ones he got at Christmas), a pack of car stickers, two matchbox airplanes, and two dinosaurs. I might get a couple more things to rotate in there for the first several weeks. (BTW, Target's dollar section was great for this activity!)
3. Buy your child a big brother/big sister shirt to wear.
4. Make all major changes before the baby arrives. If your child will be potty training, moving to a new bedroom, or moving to a big boy/girl bed and giving the crib to the baby, do this well ahead of time. This was a really good thing for us to pay attention to with Mekonen having shown some sensitivity to transitions in the past. We moved him out of the crib in November to the crib toddler bed, and in the beginning of January moved him into his big boy twin bed. We decided to hold off potty training until a couple months after the baby is here and he is adjusted. He didn't start showing really good signs early enough to try and get it done beforehand. He's showing great signs now, but we don't have enough time. We would've preferred several solid months of success before baby.
5. Relive the older siblings baby years through videos, pictures, and stories. Lately Mekonen has been obsessed with watching his lifebook DVD. He loves seeing himself as a baby and says, "Baby Bonen!!!" It's adorable. He sits there through the entire 25 minute movie, completely glued. It's so sweet.
6. Spend time before baby’s arrival reading books and watching some fun videos about what it’s like to have a new baby in the house! We have our list of books to get at the library but didn't make it there this week. Probably should've done this a little earlier, but oh well! Still 2 weeks or so left!
7. During the 9 months leading up to delivery, talk about the baby, and let your child help you with all the preparations! Have them pick out something special for the nursery.
8. Buy them a special baby doll to practice taking care of their new sibling.
9. Explain to the child all that will take place when it’s time for the baby to be born: that you will be at the hospital for a couple days, they will get to spend lots of extra time with Grandma and Grandpa or friends, etc.
10. Have your child help make a welcome home sign for Mommy and baby when they get home from the hospital.
11. Put some baby items on low shelves in nursery so your older child can “help” by getting diapers, wipes, clothes, etc.
12. When someone comes to visit you and the baby, have them speak to the older child(ren) first and ask them about their new brother/sister, etc., before doting all over the new addition.
13. When meeting the sibling for the first time, make it a private family time, with just Mommy, Daddy, kids, and the new baby. You can ask ahead of time for family and friends to wait outside for a few minutes so your older child(ren) can be as relaxed and comfortable as possible and you can enjoy those first few moments together as a new family.
14. Bring some new little toys and snacks to the hospital for older siblings to play with. (The dollar store is a great place for this).
15. If friends and family members offer to watch your older chil(ren) once you are all home, take them up on the offer, but not at the expense of an emotionally upset child. Give them the option to stay or go, so as not to feel like they are being “replaced” or “kicked out.” However, if it’s really a tough day for you, have them go and make it an extra special fun time for them.
16. Grandparents are the perfect people to help ease the transition into siblinghood! As much as possible have your older child(ren) spend quality time during the hospital stay and following days with Grandma and Grandpa doing special things. This can be some unforgettable family times for all.
Oh and here is something special Jon ordered to celebrate the new arrival! He is so cute. The classic bubblegum cigars!
So there are some family tested ways to help siblings adjust to the new addition. I plan to make individual play time, snuggle time, and the like for Mekonen each day, no matter how tired I am. These are precious days ahead and I want them to be the best they can be for our family and Mekonen... it's all about choosing ways to live purposefully!