The last days or even weeks I spend a lot of time thinking about how to prepare little L for his new role as a big brother. It will be such an important step for him. And for us as a family. Suddenly, our life as a family will change completely. There will be another person. A little girl with her own personality. We will need to find a new balance that works for all of us. So, today, I would like to share some nice ideas about how to make this transition period as smooth as possible for little L (and us) 😉
The symptoms I am supposed to have in weeks 30 and 31 (and how I am really feeling)
Little Miss M
Miss M is weighting 1.8 kg now – more than a coconut! And that’s not all: she’s heading into a growth spurt! I wish she would show her cute little face a bit more during the scans but she is always putting her hands in front of her eyes… Maybe next Saturday when we will see Dr. A again 😉 She is still in the perfect position. During the last Hypnobirthing class, one of my doulas explained me how to make sure to keep her in this position: First, you can practice the so-called “mirror mantra”. You basically stand in front of a mirror several times a day (well, as often as possible really), stroke your belly and tell your baby the following words: Head down – Chin to chest – Hands to heart – Back to belly. Just search for “baby’s ideal position for birth” on Google and you will be able to see some pictures. Apparently, imagining your baby in the ideal position for birth can really influence her position. It is also important to sit up straight (a birthing ball can help you; will try to get one soon), ideally with your knees lower than your hips.
This week’s topic
Soon, you will be a big brother, my son
A while ago, we met with some friends. I was excited to see a friend of mine who had just been given birth to a beautiful little girl. It was the first time that I would see her with her baby. At first, when they arrived, Little L was not that much interested in the “new addition” to the play group. Well, until I held her in my arms, that is… Then, the drama started. I had rarely seen Luca that jealous. I actually had to stop holding the baby and my friend needed to explain to Luca that it was her baby, not mine. That there was nothing to be jealous about.
This is when I got quite scared…
Little L would need to deal with exactly this situation very soon. Except that, then, it would be “my” baby and not my friend’s…
Of course, I had already tried to prepare little L for the arrival of his little sister before. I had explained him that he would be a big brother soon and that mummy had a big belly because she was carrying Miss M (we use Miss M’s name very regularly since the beginning of my pregnancy just like we had done it for little L). I had also told him not to hit or kick mummy’s belly because this might hurt his little sister.
Well… with very limited success….
I guess that the idea of mummy carrying another person in her belly is just too difficult to understand for an 18-months old. It’s very abstract. You cannot see this other baby. Why should it be hurt when you don’t touch it??
So, I started reading about how to prepare your toddler for baby Nr 2… and realized that it was about time to start operation “introduce Luca to the idea of having a sister”.
Here are some of the tips I found really useful.
Big brother in the making:
1. One of the most important things I’ve read probably was: “Cherish the time when there is just you and your toddler”. How true. The next weeks will be the last weeks I am spending with little L. Only with little L, I mean. Oh my. Even when I write this I get sentimental… Of course, I am looking forward to our little baby girl. But I will miss spending time with my little man. It will never be the same again. There will always be two little monkeys. In our flat. And in my heart. It makes me happy and sad at the same time. I somehow already have guilty conscience for not being able to spend as much time with Luca as before. Even if that’s completely stupid. I know. But it hurts a bit. Somehow. So, I am trying to spend time with Luca even more consciously now.
2. Take your toddler for antenatal appointments. We did that since the beginning. Without even knowing that this was a good thing. We just didn’t have the choice as we had no one to look after little L haha. I am not sure if this made a huge difference, though, to be honest. I think Luca is still too small to understand the whole scan thing. The thing he remembers instead probably is that he needed to wait a long time until it was our turn to see the doctor. And that he then needed to wait until the scan was done. And the discussion with the doctor. So, this advice might be more useful if you have older kids or toddlers.
3. Read books about the arrival of the new sibling. So far, I only bought one book on this topic as it was the one that seemed best adapted to little L’s age: “There’s a House Inside my Mummy”. Luca and I have already read it several times together and he quite likes it. It’s hard to say if he gets the message though. He is not as fascinated by this book as he seems to be by some others. Anyways, I love books and I think it’s a great way to explain the arrival of a new baby. I wish there would be books with flaps on this topic haha. Luca loves to lift the flaps. It’s much more interactive and engaging. If anyone knows of a book like that, please let me know 😉 Otherwise, I have found some nice books to help prepare a toddler for the arrival of a little brother or sister but most of them are for kids that are already a little bit older. Click here for some ideas.
4. Give your toddler a baby doll. BEST advice EVER. At least for us. We bought little L a baby doll and a little stroller some weeks ago. We named the doll after our baby girl to be born. Miss M 🙂 At the beginning, he didn’t seem too keen on holding the baby doll or having anything to do with it. But now, baby doll gets a big hug every morning and at night before bedtime. “She” is having lunch and dinner with us and gets loads of “bisous” (kisses) and walks in her little stroller. Luca is immediately looking for her when we say her name. Another positive thing: little L was never drinking enough water. But when his baby doll drinks, he wants to drink as well 😉 It is actually super cute how caring he is. Makes my heart melt every time I see it. I’ve read that it was also a good idea to use the doll to practice nappy changing together. Will try that as well – who knows, little L might be able to help me soon hehe
5. Show your toddler photos of him when he was a little baby. I think this is a lovely idea, especially as we were lucky enough to get some super cute pictures and videos taken by our midwife just after birth. And little L loves (no, sorry, is obsessed about) watching videos of himself haha It’s a nice way to explain him that, not so long ago, he has been a tiny little baby himself and that there will be another little baby soon again. And that, now, he is the big brother – not a baby anymore 😉
6. I’ve also read that it was important not to introduce any major changes for your toddler directly before or after the birth of baby number 2. That really makes sense to me. We have therefore started the “preparation process” for a life with 2 kids quite early: little L started nursery when I found out that I was pregnant again. When he enjoyed going to nursery three afternoons a week, we started searching for a nanny. And finally, we found one that he really likes. And us too! Now, Luca has still some weeks to adapt to her and to get used to playing with the nanny instead of me, from time to time. I wanted to start potty training but have decided to postpone this. It’ll be a big change for him – and a lot of work for mummy haha… So, I have decided not to put any pressure on us two. Wanting to finish the potty training before Miss M arrives sounds unrealistic to me. So, we’ll do that later.
7. The first time after Miss M’s birth will be tough, I think. It’s the first time I will not be home for one or even several nights. And even when I come back from the hospital, I will probably spend a lot of time with our little princess. So, it seemed absolutely crucial to me to find people I trust that will look after little L when Miss M is born. My husband, obviously. I asked him not to make any travel plans for the time before and after our baby girl’s due date. He will also take some vacation to support me after the birth. But Miss M might come early. Or late. And his work might not allow him to be as flexible as he’d like to be… It was clear for us that we needed another person of trust for Luca. Our parents would have been great. But little L has actually only seen them a few times last year. And they won’t be able to come immediately after Miss M is born. So, we started looking for a nanny. But finding a great nanny is super hard. I knew it would be hard. But, in fact, it is much harder! And it takes time!! And patience. And gut feeling. And so much more. Thankfully, we have found someone who really seems perfect for our family. Gentle, smiling, motivated. Kids show you quite rapidly if they like a person or not. Fingers crossed, all will work out well 😉
When baby 1 meets baby 2:
8. Explore the new baby together. I’ve read this advice several times. So, there must be something true about it. When little L will be coming to the hospital with daddy to “meet” his little sister for the first time, I will make sure that Miss M will be laying in her cot and not in my arms. My arms will be free to cuddle Luca and to hold his hand while we “discover” the new addition to the family together. I hope that this way, he will be less jealous.
9. I quite like the idea of giving little L a gift when Miss M and me will be coming home from the hospital. It’s a nice way to connect this event with something positive for him. Ideally a gift that he will remember later. Will need to figure out what we could give him 😉 And maybe we should also get some smaller gifts that he can open every time someone will be visiting us to see the new baby. So that he doesn’t feel that he is not important anymore. That no one is interested in him anymore. It doesn’t need to be something big. Just a little thing.
Life with two little monkeys:
10. Plan some activities for the first days when you come home from the hospital. Some activities that don’t necessarily involve mummy and baby Nr 2. But activities that are fun for little L. He loves to spend time with daddy. As my husband will (normally… hopefully) have some vacation, it might be nice to plan a small “boys” activity for every day. This will give me some time on my own with Miss M. Some time to adapt to the new situation as well. Cause, yes, I will need to learn again how to handle a newborn!
11. Involve your toddler as much as possible in all activities concerning baby Nr 2. Make him feel important. I can already see how much little L loves taking care of his baby doll. I am sure he will feel so proud if I ask him to hand me Miss M’s diapers, to help me bring her to bed etc. It’s like with grocery shopping, I think: Put your toddler in his stroller and it’s a nightmare. Let him walk and help you get the items you are looking for… well, it’s a nightmare too – but you have a happy toddler haha
12. Make sure your toddler doesn’t feel neglected. That seems so important to me. I am sure it will be very hard at the beginning but I will try my best to spend some time with little L every day. Just him and me. That’s it. I want him to get this time with me. Time when I only focus on him. I don’t want him to feel invisible all of a sudden. I can see how important it is for him that we acknowledge everything new he has learned. That we praise him for that. It is so motivating for him. I definitely want to keep this up.
13. Carry the newborn as much as possible. Well, I actually did carry little L quite a lot when he was a tiny little baby. For several reasons. First of all, this was the only way to go grocery shopping with him without him starting to cry. It also gave me the possibility to do all the housework while being close to Luca. And I quite liked the feeling of having him close to me. So, yes, I think a baby carrier is a good idea. I still have the one I used for little L. Let’s see if Miss M will be as happy to be carried around as her older brother 😉
14. Make it clear that your toddler is now a big brother. I’ve read that many toddlers do regress when a new baby arrives. Suddenly, they want to be fed again or carried all the time. To be honest, I can totally see little L doing this. So, I think it’s a quite good advice to make it clear to him that he is no baby anymore. And that this is a great thing! He is allowed to eat what mummy and daddy are eating. But Miss M is still too small for that. He is allowed to go with daddy to the play area and on the big slide. But Miss M is still a baby and needs to stay in the stroller (or with mummy) and so on. I think it’s also nice to tell him how proud we are that he is such a good big brother, taking care of his little sister. Just to make him feel proud of being the older one 😉
15. Find activities to occupy your toddler when you’re feeding the baby. I really hope I will be able to nurse Miss M. And breastfeeding can take time. At the beginning, it feels as if you were nursing the whole day… Of course, our nanny can go out with him sometimes. But little L might also want to sit with mummy. I think that reading a book while nursing or giving him a snack so that he can eat as well, are some nice ideas. Little L also likes his flashcards. He usually shows me the cards and I need to name the picture on it. Or invent a quick story that goes with the picture. Maybe a little “nursing session box” with some of his favorite toys might also be a good idea. Will need to think of other ideas like that.
16. Forgive yourself. Well. That must be my favorite advice. Miss M is not even here and I already know that I will need to forgive myself quite a lot. Probably every day. For not spending enough time with little L. For not spending as much time with Miss M as I did with Luca when he was a newborn. For not dressing in anything else than a jogging. For not washing my hair for… let’s say some days. For not being able to manage both kids at the same time. For letting little L cry because I am changing Miss M’s nappy. For crying myself even though I should be super happy. For not going outside enough with the two little monkeys. For not doing enough cool activities with Luca. For not cooking enough healthy food. For not updating my blog. The list is long. Oh well.
But one thing I am sure of is that I will try my very best to make both of my little ones happy…
Must haves for Miss M:
Nothing glamorous and fancy this time, I’m afraid 😉 But something extremely important; so important that we use this item every day for little L: the perfect armchair for nursing and for holding your little one at night (well, and for falling asleep on it hehe 😉 ). Before we had Luca we bought a very modern and beautiful armchair for his room…, which we never used as it was horribly uncomfortable. One day, we went to IKEA and I saw “him” (yes, you are right, I DO consider this chair as more than a simple item!): the STRANDMON wing chair. I couldn’t imagine a better nursing chair than this one. And its design is quite decent as well. And so is its price. So, we bought a second one (in light grey this time) for Miss M. Add some nice cushions and – voilà, the perfect addition to your nursery!
Hi there! I’m Tani De Gregorio. The one behind this little blog. ‘Our big Dubai adventure’ started about three years ago when I quit my job in a multinational in Switzerland to follow my husband to sunny Dubai where we are living now with our two little munchkins, Luca (3) and Maëva (nearly 2).
This blog is not about the glamorous life of an expat wife. There’s just too many baby wipes and too few high heels in my life for that.
Instead, it’s about our daily adventures in the sandpit. About motherhood away from home. It’s about the kids. About fun things for them to do. Things you might not have heard of otherwise. It’s about workshops. And cool places to explore. In this amazing city we call home. At least for a little while…