Before Indi’s arrival one of my main concerns was Alfie’s reaction. Would he be jealous? Would he feel left out? Would he experience resentment? Would he become anxious? I think this is a worry that many parents share when introducing a toddler to a new baby. I’ve made a list of all the ways we prepared him to be a big brother and I’ve tried to list them in order of their helpfulness.
When I thought about what a toddler would find stressful about a new baby’s arrival I started to understand the amount of changes a child would have to adapt to in a short space of time. My priority during my pregnancy was to minimise the amount of changes Alfie would have to cope with in one go.
We’ve had virtually no problems with transitioning from a family of three to a family of four and Alfie has quickly become a brilliant big brother.
1 Understanding Pregnancy
We spent lots of time with a relative who was further along in her pregnancy than I was. This meant Alfie expected my bump to get bigger and he got to experience the transition from bump to baby.
I think this really helped him to understand what was happening to my body and how his family would change. We talked a lot about Rosie’s baby while she was still pregnant and afterwards about where the baby had lived before she was born.
It also helped him understand what a baby was and how he should behave around a baby which we were very grateful for when Indi finally arrived. By the time she was born he already knew to be gentle and quiet when he played with her. He also knew she would cry and he knew I would have to hold her a lot.
2 Bonding with the Bump
I have no doubt that Alfie understand that there was a living baby inside me for most of my pregnancy. We found out that we were having a little girl and we gave her a name as soon as we could. This helped Alfie get to know her early on.
He started to hug and kiss the bump of his own accord when I was about 4 months pregnant. We encouraged him to talk to the baby several times a day too. Even before Indi was born Alfie had started to bond with the bump and care for her.
3 Familiarising with equipment
Another way that we tried to minimise changes he would have to adapt to was by letting him get used to all her stuff. A baby brings with it SO MUCH STUFF; some of it is exciting and some of it is a bit scary. But it’s all very new and it all needs to be explored!
at about 6 months pregnant we converted a corner of his play room to act as Indi’s movement area, we parked the pram in the hall and we set up her room and filled it with her clothes and toys. We spent lots of time in that room talking about the baby and the different things she would need. This really minimised the impact of her arrival.
4 Freedom to Play
We made nothing off limits in the weeks before Indi arrived. If he wanted to sit in her pram and have us race him round the house, fine! He fancied emptying her toy basket, also fine! He’s spent the last half hour using her bottles in a water pouring game, no problem! He had the brainwave to transfer all her clothes from their drawers to the wash basket, also fine…just about!
This meant that by the time Indi arrived and needed these items he was utterly bored of them and didn’t care that she was using them.
5. Read Baby Books
We read a ton of books in our house anyway so introducing the idea of a new family member through fiction just seemed sensible.
Alfie enjoyed our story times with bump and still enjoys sharing some of these books with Indi.
6. Played with Dolls
I’m not sure if this particular activity had much of an impact in terms of helping him to adjust to a newborn so I’ve listed it last.
If it did anything I think that letting him play with our doll gave him a certain independence and confidence when it came to physically being with a newborn.
Alfie has been an AMAZING big brother and I’m so proud of how he has adapted!
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