A few weeks ago I was sitting outside the Tae Kwon Do studio trying to watch Diego practice his moves but was really chasing Santi around the gym hallways. A nanny I have chatted with in the past asked me if I was ready for Baby #3. I told her I was and then she asked, “Is Diego ready too?”. I was taken by surprise and said, “You mean Santi? I don’t know if he understands what’s happening.” She said, “No, I mean Diego. Just because he has experienced the birth of one brother doesn’t necessarily mean he will be completely ready for another sibling.” Oh, wow. Actually, I had not thought about that. So many people would say to me, “Poor Santi! He won’t be the baby anymore.” My mother-in-law would joke that she would take Santi to Chicago for a few weeks because she really felt bad for him. I had been so caught up and preoccupied with my 17 month-old Santi’s feelings and reaction once the baby arrived, that I really didn’t think Diego would be affected by the birth of his new baby brother…again.
So I took out the old books, bought a new book, made a list of things that Diego can do to help for the preparation of the arrival of Baby #3 and have talked his ear off about how cool it will be for him to be a big brother for the second time.
Here are a few things that I think are essential in preparing a child for the birth of his first or second sibling:
Books! Our favorite, Soy Un Hermano Mayor (I’m a Big Brother) by Joanna Cole. There is a Big Sister one too of course! I really love this book and have also bought it as a baby shower gift for older siblings. I featured The Berenstain Bears and Baby Makes Five here before. It really focuses on Sister Bear’s (the middle child) feelings about not being the baby of the family anymore. I don’t know how much Santi understands about the baby but I loved the book because Diego didn’t think the book was about him and understood that Santi might have a little bit of a negative reaction about the baby coming home.
Baby Pictures Just recently, a couple of moms in charge of the yearbook at Diego’s school asked us to take in a couple of baby pictures of our preschoolers. I took advantage of this and while sorting through Diego’s pictures, I took the time to show him and talk to him about the time he was a baby. I tell him he will always be my baby and he thinks that’s “silly”. I can see in his eyes and smile that he understands.
Baby Brings a Gift Diego was very lucky that newborn Santi was so generous and brought him a balance bike when he came home from the hospital. He remembers this gift and wants to know if Baby #3 will bring him and Santi something as well. He’s requesting some big ticket items though and we tell him that it might be a little difficult for baby to carry such things! We haven’t thought about what just yet, but we also plan on having some little things on the side wrapped and ready for when guests arrive to visit the baby. Having new books, little cars, and even art supplies wrapped and ready to distract the boys will be key when guests are fussing over the new baby.
Baby Doll Yes, even for boys. Diego really wanted a baby doll when I was ready to have Santi. My mom bought it for him because it came with a little magic baby bottle with the milk that disappears and she thought, “why not?”. Because I would be nursing, we thought Diego could “take care” of baby by feeding and pretending to change the diaper. Baby Vicky is still around and we have now shown Santi how to feed and burp the baby too!
Help Pack Hospital Bag I have my items ready and sometime this week I plan on having Diego help me pack for the hospital. He knows that now that my mom is here, I could go to the hospital any day now. I have been away from him before (3 or 4 days max) so I’m not too worried but I do want him to feel involved and secure that I will be just a few minutes away and that we will be home soon with the baby.
Help with Baby Name Even though Diego is only 5, we thought it would be a good idea to let him think about names for the baby. Luckily he didn’t pick Peach Fuzz like our friend’s son did and he didn’t really make any suggestions. He listened and weighed in on the options like a mature little man and simply told us if he liked something or not.
Pass Out “Announcements” at School As I was thinking of other ways to include Diego and prepare him for the birth of his second baby brother, I thought about how will be going to school the day of my scheduled c-section. I want him to have a special day at school and to get extra attention. I think we will be making home-made birth announcements, cookies or muffins for him to take to school so the teacher can talk to him and the class about the baby joining our family that day. I want him to have a normal day at school but to get a little extra love from his peers as well.
Spend One-on-One Time We have less than 12 days left! Now that my mom has arrived from Chicago. Jose and I should really think about taking Diego out somewhere for dinner or a movie…alone. Just the three of us and like “old-times” as Diego likes to say.
I think we are ready and we have done as much as we can with Santi too. It’s definitely a lot easier to prepare a five year-old than a 17 month-old! For Santi (and of course Diego) we will have to pay attention to their behavior when the baby is home with us. I expect a little regression from both of them but being conscious and prepared in case of a quick change in behavior will help us deal with it as quickly as possible.
I welcome any other ideas please!!!!!!!! What are some ways you prepared your children for a second or third baby?