Preparing older siblings for a baby

Becoming LDS recently commented:
"Has your little man adjusted well to everything with the new one around? We are expecting a little girl in 4 months. We are super excited but also nervous of how our 2 1/2 year old will respond. Any advice?"
Red Chief is doing better than I had thought. He was a month shy of three years old when Baby was born, and he isn't very comfortable around other children, especially babies. He has always been a sympathetic crier; he can't bear to see other children crying and it sets him off, too. He has also mentioned to us in the past that he's scared of babies.

We knew we'd have a big job getting him ready for Baby. We broke the news pretty early on, but didn't talk about it all the time. In the last month of the pregnancy, we escalated the conversations a bit. He didn't always want to talk about it, but after Baby came, we could see what worked.

Here are some books that helped us:
We also had conversations about specific things the baby would do. By the time Baby came, Red Chief knew that she would cry a lot, sleep a lot, and suck on a pacifier. He also knew that she would come out of my tummy at the hospital. We didn't give him the gory details; just as much as he wanted to know, which wasn't much.

We also started training Red Chief to be a bit more independent. It's nice that he can walk places now instead of being carried, and he's slightly more obedient and helpful. I would have liked to have him potty trained, but that didn't work out.

Mr. Mordecai took Red Chief to buy a gift for Baby while we were in the hospital. Red Chief was very proud of himself for picking it out by himself and he really liked it when I showed Baby the gift.

As soon as Baby came home, all our conversations paid off. Red Chief wanted to hold her, which he did (with lots of help). He wanted her to stay in her crib, because we had talked about the baby sleeping in the crib. And most of all, he wanted to shove her pacifier in her mouth.

He's been pretty good with her so far. He still can't stand her crying ("Baby's crying goes inside you."). He also doesn't like it when I can't pay attention to him, so I try to spend as much time with him as possible, especially doing things like reading him stories and putting him to bed. He had a hard time for awhile when Grandma was taking care of him; he missed Mommy.

Red Chief is getting better with Baby every day, and I'm so proud of him. He's growing up so quickly and I love to see him hugging her and helping me.

Do you have any advice?


  1. Thanks for devoting a whole post to my question. I think I will have to do better at explaining the crying and sleeping that the baby will do. It sounds like Red Chief has done really well.

    One of the things we are worried about is that our little boy may be a bit mean to the baby. We watched two babies in a week span about two weeks ago and at first he was fine but when the babies would demand a little bit more attention he would get jealous which resulted in hitting and trying to push the baby over. Not good. I think we are heading in the right direction now though...hopefully.

    Until a few days ago he didn't want to talk about baby at all. He would just say "No, baby" and so we had dramatically toned down mentioning baby at all but since I have him almost too excited. He asks about her every day.

    My little boy and I sat down and made a list of all of the fun things he can do with baby. Read her books, dance (we have a cd from when he was a baby that he still loves), sing her songs, show her toys, help with her diaper, etc. He got really excited to be her big helper.

    I have been brainstorming quite a bit and here is what we have so far...

    He will give baby a gift - something that he and baby can do together.

    Baby will give a gift to him - something that is special that is meant for Mommy/Daddy and Him to do together, not baby.

    We are going to create a helper tote of some sort that has special things he can do with baby in it - a special book or two, the toy he gave to baby, pacifier, blankie, diaper, wipes, etc. in it that he can get when it is time for him to be a big brother helper.

    Then I want to make a special box for him that has special activities and treats for those moments when we need a little extra boost like while I am nursing, especially at the beginning when it takes longer.

    Lastly, we are going to make a birthday cake/big brother cake for baby and him when baby comes home. He is really excited about this.

    So there is our list. Some of you may think it is over the top but I am trying to be as prepared as possible.

    Any other advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again for the post. :)

  2. I am an older sister. When my brother was born, my parents gave me my own newborn babydoll so that they had their baby and I had my baby. Before David was born, she taught me how to hold the baby, and how to take care of the baby. Maybe it doesn't work so well with boys, but with girls it seemed to do the trick.

  3. I am the oldest of five, and when all of my younger siblings were born, my parents bought each of the older siblings a gift and gave it to us in the hospital when we saw the new baby for the first time. This way we weren't jealous of all the gifts the baby was receiving, and we each got a little extra attention.

  4. i have just recentyly had a baby- #3 and my #2 is quite the 'momma's boy' so we were really worried. i have my own special nicknames for each- little man and big boy, and i NEVER use #3 as an excuse. if baby needs to be fed, and #2 and i are snuggling before bed, i will say- ok, all done, mommy's got to go potty, or something, just never using 3 against 2 i think has really helped. does that make sense?

  5. I am loving the ideas...I've thought about the doll and I really like the idea of not making the baby the excuse or the one to blame when you have to stop giving your other child attention. I've tried to do that during pregnancy as well especially while I was sick. Thanks for the great ideas everyone. I'm sure others will benefit as well.

  6. Having the baby give him a gift is exactly what we did with our daughter. She loved getting her gift from Mo and being able to give him a gift too.

    I have talked to a lot of people that gave the sibling a doll to care for just before baby was born, my daughter was never interested in that.

    I have the kids come feel my belly when the boys are going crazy, and Mo loves to hug and kiss my belly and talk to his brothers. I also talk about them as though they are already here and part of the family. Which they are, but it seems to help Mo understand more that they are here in mom now, and will be here in "their room" or "their crib" and wearing "their clothes" very soon.

    I'm finding that my kids are both born mommy/daddy types. My best friend had her 3rd child last August, and every chance they get my kids are over talking to her and entertaining her, even to this day. So I am blessed in that regard.

  7. I am all for preparing the children for babies. Your ideas are great. One thing we did with each birth was the sibling/siblings went with me to most all DR appointments and participated in Ultra Sounds. We read books. We talked all the time about Baby. We called the baby by the name we chose. We also went to Sibiling classes that hospitals offer. They changed baby dolls and got to tour the nursery and a mommy suite.

    We also let our children make a welcome card with their picture on it to tape on the hospital baby beds. They loved this. LOved it. They were so proud to see that in the nursery window taped to the cradle.

    We also had our kids with us during birth.

  8. The one thing that I did when #2 came along was let the baby cry. Not a lot, but just enough. Let me explain. When I was doing something with #1 and the baby started crying. The tendancy is to jump up and go to the baby and take care of them. Instead I would finish whatever I was doing with #1, reading a book or end a game. I might even go get baby to join us and keep playing the game. But I would let the baby cry some to let my older one know, first that it's okay for babies to cry and that she is important too. That said when I had to take care of baby I would tell her that I needed to do that because baby can't take care if herself. Kid's also need to know that as they get bigger they become more independent. That's what growing up is about.

    But my older didn't have a problem with the little one until she got mobile and started getting into her stuff, so keep that in mind.

  9. Ahhhh! You're making me reminisce here, wow it's all coming back - how fun! Sounds like you're doing an awesome job!