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Monday, February 04, 2013

Motherhood Mondays: How do you prepare your older child for a new baby?

My one big worry these days is...

...how the new baby will affect Toby.

When we told Toby early on that a new baby would be joining our family, he requested a "glurl" named Thomas. These days, though, when the baby is casually mentioned, he holds up his hand, looks me in the eye and tells me very sternly, "No baby, Mama. No baby."

And I get his point. Right now, I have so much time to devote to Toby, and our relationship is sweet and close. I really worry about losing that closeness once a newborn arrives and I don't have as much one-on-one time with him. In those early days with a newborn, I can't imagine we'll still be going out to breakfast, on afternoon bike rides...but I don't want him to suddenly feel as if he has became our second priority. How can I keep him feeling loved?

In her memoir Waiting for Birdy, Catherine Newman quotes Penelope Leach:
"Imagine your husband coming home to tell you that he was proposing to take on a second wife as well as you, and imagine him using the various phrases that are frequently used to break the news of a coming baby to a child:
* "I like you so much I just can't wait to have another gorgeous wife."
* "It'll be
our wife. It'll belong to both of us and we'll both look after her together."
* "I shall really need my reliable old wife to help me look after this new young one."


How can you help prepare your beloved older child for a new baby? Children's books about siblings? Regular dates with your child? If you have multiple kids, did your older child flip out when the new baby arrived? If you're an older sibling yourself, do you remember it being traumatic? I would so appreciate any insight...Thank you!!!
P.S. I liked this idea.

Update: Thank you SO much for this incredible advice! Can't tell you how grateful I am for your suggestions.

326 comments:

1 – 200 of 326   Newer›   Newest»
myheartscontentblog.com said...

I really sympathise. For various reasons we're only having one child but this is one thing that makes me really glad about that. A few of my friends said that they kind of lost their first born and that relationship for a while after the second child was born, and they mourned that loss. But once the baby was a little more settled, that closeness did return. I LOVE the wife analogy...what a great sense-check!

Joanna Goddard said...

yes, i heard that the older child will flip out and act crazy for a while (which is understandable) but how sad to lose that easy closeness. i know big picture it will all be fine, but it makes me anxious nonetheless:)

Sarah said...

My parents got me a new board game to play with my mom at the hospital and we played it together the first time I came after my brother was born. I vividly remember feeling special and feeling like my mom would still play with me.

courtney - larking. said...

I have no advice, just sympathy. (And I just finished reading Waiting for Birdy and loved every single page!) I worry about the same thing with my toddler daughter - when we have another baby, how will I have enough love to go around? Here's hoping that I get to learn vicariously from you - thanks in advance :)

Christina said...

I've heard that spending quality alone time with your first, to let them know you still do love them very much is key in welcoming a new baby to the family.

Hannah said...

I'm the oldest of five and I have twin sisters two and a half years younger than I am. When they were born my parents asked everyone who visited to speak to me before looking at the babies and they talked to me a lot about how proud I must be to be the big sister. I started stopping strangers in the street to tell them about my baby sisters and what a good big sister I was to them. I remember being very proud of them and feeling very responsible for their welfare. 24 years later, I still do!

Sara said...

this doesn't answer your question, but as a mom of twins its something you deal with from the first moment (the challenge of being close to both of your kids).
I'd love to hear your take on that as someone who grew up with a twin sister. What did your parents do to make you both feel special? What was it like having a twin? Do you remember realizing that not everyone has a twin? Did you ever feel like you missed out because you didnt have the experience of it being just you?
I guess this is a request for a post on your experience growing up as a twin now that you are a mom as well

kaitlin said...

Joanna, I can't remember where in the pecking order you fall, but could either you or one of your siblings relay their experience of being the oldest? The trials and tribulations, but also the really awesome parts of being an older sibling?

Eden said...

I work as a nanny and I feel like jealousy is bound to happen. It's different for each child, depending on personality, but it's just something that needs time and persistence! That probably doesn't help, but many of us think we are doing something wrong if children experience these negative feelings. That's not the case! I feel like it's especially hard work in that 2-3 year old range. They are JUST starting to learn about sharing. They just need patience and constant reassurance that they are loved, which it seems like Toby gets that already :)

Holly said...

I was 5 when my mom had my sister, so I remember it quite well. I don't remember ever feeling jealous (and my mom says I never acted jealous or sad when she arrived), and I think a big part of that was the attention that my parents gave me for being "the best big sister ever". They just constantly stressed how great of a big sister I was and what a big help I was and that attention kind of made up for it.

laura said...

i don't have any kids, but i'm the older of two siblings. my mom told me this since i was so little i can't remember it, but i really wanted a baby brother until he was almost here. she knew i'd be getting less attention when she was taking care of my baby bro, so she sewed me a doll to take care of. she made it have brown, curly hair like me and embroidered flowers on it's apron. i actually still have it. she says that way when she was taking care of the baby i could take care of my brand new baby of my own. she and my dad gave it to me right when the baby came home and apparently it worked out pretty well.

i don't know if toby would really be into a doll, but maybe the idea of him having something to do while you're doing brand new baby things. he'd still feel involved and have his own new special thing. :)

LauraCassidy said...

I have this really clear memory of being 5 and staying in my grandmother's house when she excitedly told me that my Mum had gone into labour my brother. I looked into the mirror in her spare room and thought 'my life is never going to be the same again.' And I was right, it became so much better :) I'm told I was in a huff for a while but I was fine afterwards! Love your blog x

Evey said...

When my little sister was born, I was confused at first (I was three) but what was perfect was my dad became my number one while my mom bonded with my sister. He took me everywhere and showered me with love and my dad and I are super close to this day -- I really think that was the beginning.

Feisty said...

I was pretty sure my little brother was MINE, so I don't remember my parents doing anything other than getting me a baby doll around the same time my brother showed up.

Kathleen said...

I'm the oldest of six children. When my brother arrived, I was almost 2 years old and vividly remember being very upset that I didn't have a knit cap like they gave him at the hospital! To remedy that, Dad found me a pair of tights and put them on my head (I guess a hat wasn't handy) and then I was happy as a clam and loved my brother from then on.

When the next sister came, I was old enough to ask mom "will you still love us even though you have a new baby?" Poor mom, her hormones and her emotions started her bawling right then and there. She reassured me then that she would love me.

I can't speak from the parent's perspective, but from a sister's perspective I recall this line: "The greatest gift a parent can give a child is a sibling." I think it's really true. Yes, maybe I lost some of that one-on-one time, but we still got that quality time--both individually with special "dates" but mostly in concert with my brothers and sisters. We'd read as a family, play games, go to the pool all together. Parental love might be the one thing in the world that defies logic and doesn't actually diminish with division!

And, now I feel like the luckiest girl to have five younger siblings, now almost all adult, to be my support and best friends. Even though I still wish I had a cool beanie hat from the hospital!

Anna said...

I'm the older sibling (I'm four years older than my brother) and I remember being sad when my brother was born. In fact, I cried for days when I found out he was a boy and not a girl. I don't remember all the details, but I think it helped that I was in school at the time. I had other friends to see and I had special time with one of my parents when they dropped me off or picked me up. I had fun stories to share with my mom when I got home, and everyday I'd sit on her lap and she'd sing me the same song listing all the reasons she loved me alphabetically (A you're adorable, B you're so beautiful... I used to know it all by heart). Anyway, I remember that sometimes I was sad or crazy, but now I'm SO SO SO happy to have my brother in my life. :)

mjb said...

My son was 20 months old when my daughter was born so there wasn't really a way to prepare him, but he's loved her and been protective from the very beginning. He didn't like leaving her to go do things at first, and now will happily go to bed when I tell him I need to go check on the baby. There are so many joyous moments when we see them starting to interact with each other!

Lauren said...

I'm not a parent, but I had many little cousins while growing up. Whenever we'd visit the new baby, my Mom would always bring a special gift for the older sibling and she'd hang out with them for a bit, while everyone was cooing over the new baby. Apparently, I was a little terror when my brother was born and since then she has had a soft spot for the big sibs.

Lauren Ashley said...

My little sister was born on my 4th birthday, so she always felt like a gift to me. Albeit, a gift that would occasionally loose my stuff and follow me around when I wanted to "be alone," but a gift non the less. All of my special one-on-one time with my mom was just expanded to include us both, which still felt special to me. My sister is my best friend and I still feel like she was the best birthday present I ever received.

Meghan said...

My mom tells a funny story about the night they brought my little sister home from the hospital. I was 3 and 1/2 years old and a terrible sleeper. Ironically, my mother was up with ME all night while my sister slept peacefully. At one point she told me: "Your baby sister is sleeping. Now you go to sleep too!" My response? "Well, I don't want her here anyway!"

The good news is that I don't remember feeling this way at all. :) No lasting damage!

Audrey said...

Joanna - of course you will have less time, but as long as you find some time to be with him, alone, and make that time really count, then there is no reason he shouldn't feel special. Remember that quality rules over quantity, always. Even though quantity is always nice. Plus, what he will loose with you, he will gain by having a sibling, someone always here to play as they grow older. It will take a bit of time for you guys to settle into your new routine, but you'll find just the way, no doubt. Hugs! Audrey - This Little Street

Shauna said...

This post couldn't be more timely! I'm 36 weeks with baby #2 and starting to get weepy at the thought of The End of an Era with my single child days. My daughter is 4 1/2 and now I'm glad it's taken so long for us to have another--I've been able to have somewhat "real" conversations with her about the new baby. I think it really all depends on the kind of kid you have and the age they're at, in terms of how you approach warming them up for the changes. With her, I've found that talking it up with her about "always being my first baby" and telling her birth story and stories of the early days with her really helps her realize how special she is and will continue to be. It's also been good timing because we've recently upgraded her to a "big girl bed" and all of that, so she's pumped about being an older sister. The rest we will just have to wing when the baby actually arrives, and brace ourselves for madness. Good luck!!

Unknown said...

I am an older sibling. I was seven years old when my little brother was born, and I can vividly remember the entire process. For the most part, I was thrilled to have an older sibling. My mother involved me in every process of the planning, and I even allowed to choose a name. That being said, as the due date approached, I noticed my mother withdraw from both exhaustion and the overwhelming idea of a new birth. I wasn't actively upset, but I do recall feeling sad.

However, at this point I can only assume that my mother called ahead, but during visit, the guests always had a little something for me. I feel a tinge of guilt at this age for being so spoiled, but those small gestures made all the difference at the time. I remember receiving a "big sister" t-shirt, necklace, and even a special blanket for me to place the baby on that was designated, "the big sister blanket." I was given a role in the birth and encouraged to take part in excitement.

Charlotte said...

My new babies always 'brought' a present with them for their siblings to sweeten the deal but really, just let Toby fall in love with the new arrival in his own time. A week after my third child was born, my daughter turned to me and said: "Mummy, it feels like he's always been here". And so it did. The five of us. Always here.

Jesse said...

we're only talking about baby #2 right now and i'm already worried about this!

Sarah Caron said...

My son was just over 2 when my daughter arrived. All I remember is how excited he was to have a little sister and how much he wanted to play with her (not so easy with a newborn). He still got plenty of cuddles, hugs and kisses and was super happy. Don't worry. It will be fine.

shilpishilpi said...

this kind of flips it, but as the youngest child and as an observer of many friends with multiple children, i would also spend some time being concerned about your relationship with the second child. The first gets so much attention and is doted on, while the second will never even really know what it is like to have that kind of focused attention. Also, the first is always going to be a bit more interesting to many family members/friends since he/she is older and can do more things/talk to you/etc. I actually wouldn't worry too much about the older child -- think about it from the second's perspective.

barbaraallain.com said...

I sympathize with you too, especially since am going through a similar situation. We have a 13month old little girl and I am 9 weeks pregnant. I have no idea how to explain to a kid this young so that she'll understand she's going to be a big sister!

Melissa said...

I have a 2.5 year old and a 6 month old. We read lots of books and talked a lot of baby #2 before she arrived, but nothing could have truly prepared my (then) 2 year old for the life-rocking arrival of her baby sister. We had about 2 weeks after #2 was born where #1 threw a lot of temper tantrums and was quite sad, but we made sure to carve out lots of daddy time for her and to keep her in her day care for three days a week so that she got that one-on-one attention and time to play with other kids her age. It worked and after two weeks she was back to her happy, normal self.

As for me, I knew I would be sad that the special bond I had with #1 would feel different after #2 was born, but I wasn't prepared for the enormity of it. I truly mourned the loss of that special time with her when she was my only child and I could devote 100% of my attention to her. To combat this, I made sure to spend at least 20 minutes alone with #1 every night so that she would still feel very special -- we would read or cuddle on the couch just the two of us while daddy took care of #1. After a few months, those really sad feelings on my part were no more, but it was definitely an adjustment for me that I had not been fully prepared for...

Lizzie said...

I remember reading somewhere to take your first child out on a simple but solo date (at a new spot, if you already do this) during the last week or two of your pregnancy. That way it's a very recent very special memory so when the baby comes it's still fresh in the older sibling's mind (and yours!) when things get crazy. Then you can keep going back to that special place whenever it seems necessary and it will still feel very much like an exclusive older sibling activity because you did it even before the baby was born.

Joy Soltys said...

My brothers are I all five years apart, and we're all really close to our parents. I don't think either my older brother or I had any reservations by the time my younger brother came around. My older brother was ten, and I was five, and we'd all kind of developed our own favorite activities, and my mom always emphasized the importance of individual play with us. So neither of us felt like we were losing anything when the littlest one arrived. My older brother was more than happy to go play with his friends, and I loved helping to take care of the baby. My mom still made time to read me books, or color with me, or take a nap with me (when my little brother gave her the chance!), but I guess I understood that a baby needed more mommy time than I did (I was also one of those kids that looked through my parents' baby books, and went to doctor's appointments with my mom when she was pregnant--I couldn't get enough of the idea of having a baby brother). My older brother had reservations with my arrival, only because a year earlier, my parents had lost a baby, and he didn't want to get attached to something that could possibly never come home. So I guess all I can say from my limited experience, is to possibly encourage individual play, and involve him in the process wherever you can! :)

abi's mom said...

I only have one child, but I've always heard that if both kids are crying or upset, tend to the OLDEST one first (unless there is truly an emergency, of course). The younger one doesn't know any better, and the older one won't feel neglected.

Kim said...

I'm pregnant with our first, so I haven't experienced this first hand, but I thought I'd comment as an older sister. I was 2 yrs. 7 months when my little brother was born and I LOVED it! I remember him babbling as a baby before he could talk and I'd "translate" his gibberish to my mom... I felt like a special helper and caretaker and like only I could truly understand him.

I also remember going on special dates with my parents throughout my childhood, which allowed me to still have one-on-one time every so often.

The initial adjustment will be a transition for everyone, but I know it'll go great and you'll figure out just what works for you and your family!

Erin said...

I was only 2.5 when my Mom was pregnant, but I swear I can remember how upset I was when her stomach reached a point where it prevented me from sitting on her lap. In most of the pictures of me and the "new baby" I am wearing some sort of grimace or scowl. That being said, my Dad took every Wednesday morning off from work, so that was "my" time - I either got him to myself or he took my little sister and I got some Mom time.

I think that the best thing to remember is that while of course it's going to be a challenge, having a sibling is basically the best thing in the world. While we bickered throughout our childhood, my sister is my best friend, and I literally don't know what I'd do without her.

Allysha said...

Three things:

When Toby comes to visit you in the hospital have him bring a present that he picked out for the baby. When he hands over the gift, you pull out a present that the baby brought for him! It makes the relationship reciprocal and loving from the start!

Because you spent a lot of time saying "just a minute, I have to do this for the baby" I would make of point of "telling" the baby (usually when they were going down for a nap) that it was time for me to do something with my older child. That way they felt that they were special, too.

Also, kids around this age really like their dads. I bet Toby and Alex become best friends for awhile, and that's a good thing, too.

Ashlae said...

I think you need to get him excited for the baby. Let him help you pick out names, new clothes, feel your belly when the babe starts to kick. It make take him a while to warm up to the idea, but eventually he'll come around. The family I currently work for failed to do that with their eldest, and as a result he's pretty mean to his little sister. He's getting better, but there was a lot of hitting/kicking at first.

brookekkunz said...

I dont have any children, but I'm the oldest of five girls and I remember always being absolutely enamored by the new baby sister who joined our family! My mom always posed it as "we're having a baby who will be a new friend for you to play with for your whole life!" That seems like a pretty good way to present it: you're doing this for Toby to have a lifelong friend. Now he'll have a pal to go on rides with, play with, and teach how to be cool like him. :-)

Moonlight said...

Hi there Joanna.
I will tell you about my experience as the older child from my side as well as my mother side as she describes things to me so many years later.
I am 3 years older than my sister, and I never felt jealous of her when I was little. I was teaching her things like how to climb out of her little bed all the time.
My parents never really took time to prepare me for her, I can only remember my mother sitting on the couch and telling me to touch her belly to feel my little sister. NOT the new baby, MY little sister. I think that this may count as something. I felt the relation with ME, not just with my mother!
What I have seen in my cousin's wife (they have three children now) and I admired, is how she kept some time private for each of the children. They all watched a movie at the end of the week together, she asked the older boy how school was and discussed things with him, then made puzzles with the younger girl and then took time to bathe the baby boy, feed him and put him to sleep. Then she read the other ones stories until they slept.
Plus, she is a career woman as well, to top things off!

I really really think you should get all the consultation you can, just to keep in mind, in case the child shows signs of jealousy, but don't assume that he will, or that it's the expected thing, as some parents encourage it by expecting it!

jannagould.com said...

I understand Newman's analogy but, to be fair, children and spouses are very different things. I was always grateful growing up to know that my parents' bond was my parents' bond and my place as a child (1 of 3) was securely that of a child---not a spouse. And as one of three children, I understood that I didn't get all of the attention or time or resources that my parents had to offer. I had to learn to share my parents' attention and affection, which, ultimately, is a lesson in trusting someone's care for you even when you don't have control over their time, actions, etc. (a hard lesson to learn as a child, but an extremely important one to carry into adulthood.)

I'm sure there will be much adjusting for Toby to do but kids are resilient, and best of all--they're kids, not spouses, so don't put so much pressure on yourself about how devastating this could be for your relationship with him. Your relationship is unique to the two of you and that won't change, even with a new addition. :)

Jen said...

I'm the oldest; my little brother came when I was a little more than two years old. My grandma took me to the store the day he was born to pick out my very own baby. (Of all the dolls I could've had, I chose a bald Cabbage Patch Kid which I named Frank. Go figure.) I loved having a baby to take care of just like Mama. It helped me feel special and so grown up that she and I could feed our babies or change their diapers together. Being so young, though, I don't think the transition from only child to big sibling was as traumatic as it might have been if I were older and more aware of what was happening.

RTah said...


This is something I have stressed about recently, as I am pregnant with my first right now. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I am very attached to my dog, and think of her as my baby almost. I can't imagine if I were to get another dog and try to love it as much, and how can I possibly love my sweet puppy as much once the new baby comes?? I worry I don't have enough love to go around! But I know all mommies love their children, even if that love can change as new arrivals come into the family. I am just totally in the dark as to how to spread it all out accordingly, and literally can't fathom 2 whole babies right now!

C said...

My bigger boy, who was 2 and a little bit at the time, did beautifully when his little brother arrived. We made sure big brother met the new baby at the hospital before he came home. (When he had had enough of checking out the baby's fingers and toes, he said "Put away" and he meant the baby, not the toes.) He had lots of snuggles before he went home for the evening with daddy. The baby "gave" his brother a present on the day he came home from the hospital. We made sure we had ice cream the next day and pointed out that the baby was too little for ice cream. I also made sure that I continued our routine of bedtime snuggles every night. Our friends were really good about getting presents for both and speaking to the bigger one first. They are really close (3+ years later) and there is very little sibling rivalry still, although there are hard days.

Make sure Toby knows that babies cry and can't play early on. I was really upset I didn't get a playmate and that my little brother was so noisy.

Sarah said...

My parents promised me that the day my baby brother was born, I'd get a goldfish. It made me really excited about the whole thing and even more importantly, my brother and I get along great (there were some rocky years when we were teens but that's probably to be expected).

xx S.

vicks said...

I worried about this a lot too. I remember crying the night before I went to hospital, when my parents took my then 3 year old to stay with them (as I knew I was going to be admitted to hospital the next morning) - I just felt like he had no idea what was going to hit him, and that I was somehow "betraying" him. One thing I kept telling myself was that a sibling was the best gift I could ever give him. And so it has been. He adores his sister and used to climb in her cot and say "Hello my beauty, how are you today?" Now, aged 6 and 3 - they fight a lot but really adore each other. So cute to see.

One tip - have a present for Toby from the new baby. My son arrived at hospital to meet his new sister and lo and behold, he got a present from her! That got them off to a good start. Good luck!

Miranda said...

I have a brother who is two and a half years younger than I am, and I don't remember it being traumatic at all. We are really close, and I'm so glad to have him in my life! My parents were good about appreciating our differences, and they didn't compare us to each other. That helped us form a friendship (and keeped us from feeling competitive with each other). We each had our things we enjoyed, our strengths, our hobbies, and my parents supported both of us. Hope that helps.

asiajane said...

I don't know... we seemed to have dodged this particular bullet. Only once did my oldest seem unsure about having a new baby in the family, and she was 2.5 and beyond tired when she wailed something about wishing Annie would go back to where she came from :) I think what helped is that we found out the sex, and named the baby, so that our oldest was fully involved (in her 2-year-old way) in all the planning.

Meadow said...

I was almost four, and yeah... I remember it being traumatic. I tried to kill her a couple of times (ok, jokingly), but I tipped the crib over, kicked her in the head once (by accident I think), and was generally a nightmare.

Luckily we ended up being very close throughout childhood and into our teen years. We're not as close today I'd say... we seem to have gone in totally opposite directions politically, interest, and hobby-wise, but we still email several times a day and are closer than a lot of siblings.

I think I just want to have one child eventually... I don't like the idea of having more than one kid to gang up on the parents and to have to share my time between the two of them. I'm scared that I'll like one more than the other!

It sounds like you're doing what you can to ease Toby into it, but I am not sure what else you can do but make sure you and Alex each have plenty of one-on-one time with Toby. My father used to take me out when my mom was busy with my sister.

Just For Today said...

I think it is wonderful for you to be thinking about how having a new member of the family will affect Toby.
But, don't give it too much thought. Don't over think it.
That sweet boy is so loved, and he knows it in his heart, and always will.
You will end up stressing yourself out unnecessarily, and then Toby will be confused instead of taking it in stride, if you give your concern too much attention.
Take a deep breath mom...don't make more of it then it really is. All will be well. ;)

Hugs From My Heart

Nancy Cavillones said...

When my second child was born, my older one was not even two, so it was a little different. She was excited about the baby and we talked about all the things she was going to be able to teach the baby. With this third one, my "baby" is now 2.5 and like Toby, she'd really rather not have a new baby, though she seems to vacillate on the issue. We've taken the same approach, talking about all the ways she'll be a teacher. We also talk about all the big kid things she gets to do that the baby won't (go to school, wear big kid underwear, do activities, etc). Also, traditionally, in our family, we give big sibling gifts. When Stella was born, Alice got a Bitty Baby from American Girl. Stella is really into Batman and superheroes right now but we'll see what she's into, come August! You can also make plans for dates with Toby, and the kids usually have "Dadurday" with my husband, where they go do fun stuff with Daddy on Saturdays, without me.

abigail said...

We are having our 2nd child this April, and our daughter will be 29 months when her new sibling arrives. we have been preparing her little by little. She received the New Baby at our house book for Christmas from my in laws, and she wants to read it every night! She practically has it memorized. she now has words like- umbilical cord and uterus in her vocabulary! lol

I also received two pieces of advice recently from a friend who has two children around the same age as our daughter. When both children need you- tend to the older one first. For many reasons- they will remember if they are chosen first or last, and also their needs might be an easier fix than the baby's... get the toddler settled and happy then you can focus on the baby. (I'm sure there are exceptions!) And two- when your oldest meets their sibling for the first time, have someone else holding the baby, or have the baby laying down on a changing table, moses basket etc. This way they wont just see the baby taking up the space on your chest/in your arms which is their usual territory... and then this way they can actually focus on their new sibling one on one instead of what could be a time of confusing emotions as they see you for the first time after being apart and now with a baby strapped to you. (they will have to get used to this eventually, but perhaps not initially!)

and here's a little video I took of our daughter last week musing about my pregnancy! lol

best of luck and looking fwd to reading more responses!
http://tiptoethrough.blogspot.com/2013/02/30-week-bump-and-our-daughters-thoughts.html

~abigail
aka @GrayDayShop

aline said...

i reacted very badly when i discovered i was going to have a baby sister. to make me feel better, my mom promised me a new double room w/ a doll section for me and my new sister (we were building a house at the time). but, as it happens, my baby sister turned out to be a baby boy and i never got my so dreamed new room...
looking back, i know that my mom was only trying to make me feel better, but promising me something in return was the worst move she could've made, because in the end i felt doubly betrayed.

Meadow said...

I totally remember that too! Reminds me of that Berenstain Bears book where he gets his little sister. That was always one of my favorites!

chelsea said...

I am amazed by how empowered older siblings can be when a little one comes along. I think over time, the older sibling starts to think of it as "mom and dad have each other, and I have _____." And, when you think about it, Toby won't remember life without this little person.

dk said...

These are such great comments. I'm the older sister, and I have to tell you it was really hard for me. My parents didn't do such a great job at helping me adjust, but I understand because they were SOOO young. Anyway, my sister and I are somewhat closer now. I'm hesitant to have #2, but all your reader's comments are making me feel better.

Emily said...

My middle sister and I have the same age difference that your newborn and Toby will have. All my early memories are with Maggie...I cannot remember a time when she was not there! Nor do I remember ever feeling anxious or jealous about my parents having less time for me or feeling abandoned because I was so young. I'm sure I did at 2 and a half, but I don't remember it at all. All my childhood memories are shared with my sister (and then our youngest sister who came along when we were 6 and 4): the good, the bad and the ugly. I can't imagine life without my sisters, they really are my best friends.

Just an oldest child's perspective to help you feel better. :)

Monica L. Shulman said...

Thank you so much for this today. I'm going through the same emotions that you're feeling right now. We've been telling Lucia that she will be the best big sister and focusing more on the "big sister" part than the "baby brother" part. My parents said that I had a very hard time when my sister was born. I think it's normal for them to feel jealous, sad, etc. I also keep talking to her about all of her friends who have younger sibs...especially her girlfriends who have baby brothers. I think it's helping but we won't really know until the new baby gets here, right? I'm also feeling guilty about losing the time with her and then I feel guilty like somehow that means that this new baby isn't the same feeling as when I was pregnant the first time around. It makes me feel sad that I won't have the quiet time with my second that I had with my first...I was exhausted and overwhelmed but I loved those quiet mornings and afternoons during the first few weeks where I just sat and held her and studied every single of her. Will I have that time with my second? I hope so. And then will my first be jealous and sad? It's just a lot to worry about.

Melanie Molloy said...

There's an ouch in my pouch is great book....our daughter was 2 and a half when i fell pregnant with our second and just three when he arrived. from the very beginning we talked to her about the baby all the time. We emphasised how much the baby would love her and look up to her. We helped her to play with dolls and acted out what babies do so she wouldn't be shocked by the crying, feeding and nappy changing! She also prepared for his arrival by buying him a little bunny just like hers and we bought her a baby cook book from him so she could be involved in the future with weaning (which she is)...all this led to much excitement. she ran into the hospital room, jumped on the bed and cooed 'awwwww he's sooooo tiny. look at his feet!!! here you go Baby T I got you a bunny like mine' and that was it...they've been cuddle monsters ever since! (we are sure the sibling rivalry will kick in once he can walk/talk!)

Erica said...

I'm second out of seven, and I LOVE having siblings! To ease the "pain" of having a new baby in the house, my parents would always have the new baby bring a present for the older sibling(s), so to speak. My older sister got a baby doll when I was born, and my mom said it helped her a lot b/c now she and my mom had a new baby.

Flo~ said...

I think my mom tried to prep me for my sister, but it was a pretty abstract concept for me (I was 5). She showed me sonograms and talked about it, but I don't think it ever occurred to me that she would have less time or that I would suffer in some way because there was another kid around.
I understand why you're worried, but you're giving Toby a brother or sister--a potential playmate, co-conspirator, best friend, someone who'll get all the family inside jokes, and all that other good stuff that sibling relationships bring. Having my little sister around is probably one of the best things my parents ever gave me, and if I had any qualms when she was born, I don't remember them now.

CP and KW said...

i am an older sibling and i was absolutely overjoyed. my parents made it a job for me - to take care of my younger brother. i got to help with bottle feedings and watch him on his blanket. my sense of protection and, ownership i guess, was extremely strong and therefore it felt like it was my new doll i had to care for rather than my parent's new priority. i got to dress him up and set him up at my doll's tea table... just like a new toy. i know that sounds like it's minimizing him as a person, but it made me connect with his as my own new friend, not competition. the competition came later - middle and high school! then it was brutal.
kw, ladies in navy

Kelsey Warner said...

From the POV of an older sib: I was almost 4 when my little sister was born and I have vivid memories of meeting her for the first time, and my mom in the hospital. They are very mixed, very clear memories. I brought Dana my favorite doll (really hoping and thinking she would like it), skinned my knee while hurriedly walking the dog with my dad, kept stepping on my mom's toes as we walked loops in the maternity ward. Then it's a blur until birthday parties and other milestones as we grew up. Thanks for the cue to reflect on what welcoming a new sibling was like...I'm 23 now and while I don't think I'm yet old enough to truly appreciate my sisterly bond, I do, in looking back, value my family for those first few days after Dana. It's like meeting your family all over again. Even as babies I think you pick up on the love that a birth brings. It's very very cool.

Chloé said...

I have no advice, but a funny anecdote.
My friend had a new baby, and every morning, during almost 3 weeks, his older sister (2 two and half) said, when she saw the baby while getting out of her bedroom: "ho, he's still here..."

Alicia Marie said...

My son (than 2yrs) handled his new brother quite well. He loved him right away and was very sweet to the baby. However, he was quite upset with me. He started to prefer my husband and their relationship grew so sweet. I was sad that our relationship had changed but so thankful his concerns were addressed to me and not the baby. It last for a few months and than slowly everything went back to normal, even with a new brother tagging along. We did find out the sex of the baby and talked to my oldest about the baby using his name a lot. He knew he had a brother named Colin that was going to come out of mommy's stomach very soon. He would roll his cars over my belly to "play" with Colin. I think it helped.

Rebekah Carroll said...

I'm the third of four, and although I don't have kids, I know my older sisters were NOT excited about me. Once I was born, however, they didn't put me down! Every baby picture my parents have of me, they're holding me or snuggling with me. I think when it's just an idea, it's scary and strange but once the older sibling meets their new little sister or brother, they fall in love almost as much as the parents.

Danny said...

Here is the cool thing that happened. My husband and our oldest, Piper, got really close during that time. I had to nurse and take care of the newborn and so daddy swooped in and made Piper feel special. It was a real turning point in their relationship and a blessing.
I am getting excited for you!!!

Blaire said...

I was almost in tears most of my pregnancy because I couldn't fathom losing the relationship I had with my one year old daughter by having her brother. I prayed and prayed about it as it was constantly breaking my heart the thought of it. When her brother was born, I was shocked at how our closeness stayed the same. She was involved with everything, from getting wipes and diapers to helping with baths. When I nursed, she was cuddling on my lap too. She would then get bored and go do her thing, but I never once told her 'no, I'm with your brother'. I really think that made a difference. If he would cry while I was playing with her, I would ask her if we should go make brother happy, and it was always, yes! Only a handful of times has she asked that I put him down so I can play with her, but she never seemed overly angry jealous. Good luck and congratulations!

Heather said...

This is a simple thing but worked wonders with my two girls. Kids so naturally believe what you say so when my second daughter was born I casually and occasionally said things like - you love each other, you are sweet friends - and because we thought and said these things from the very beginning they have really come true.

Krysta said...

I'm 6 and 8 years older than my two brothers so I don't really remember it being a difficult transition for me. But when my youngest brother was born, my middle brother was only 2 and one day right after the baby came home, he got so worked up he threw a tantrum and demanded that my mother "put that baby on the floor right now!" He mostly got past his neglect.

Iris said...

While I don't have my own children yet, I do have a few memories of when my 3 years younger sister was born. A few weeks before she arrived, my parents gave me my own baby doll whom I could name and talk to, etc. I was allowed to bring my baby (whom I decided to name "Jeffrey," very specifically not "Jeff" apparently!) to the hospital to visit my mom and new sister.

I don't have memories of feeling left out at all, perhaps because I've either pushed them from my psyche or because my parents did a good enough job of including me in the whole experience. I remember loving my baby sister and feeling a sense of ownership and responsibility over her. As soon as she could sit up and move around on her own I felt like she was my best little friend. I'm sure Toby will feel the same way! Especially since the three of you seem so happy and close, perhaps Toby will feel like the responsible, cool older brother instantly and help introduce the new little person to your way of life.

Carrie said...

We just had our second daughter in October (our first is 3 1/2 years old). The first few weeks were an adjustment for everyone, including me and my husband. But once we all got used to each other and settled into a routine, it all got so much easier. My younger daughter adores her big sister. My older daughter dotes on her little sister. It really is magical. Remember - you have enough love for both of them. Some days, you may not have enough sleep or patience or time, but you will always have enough love. And love is what our kids always need.

Erin said...

I am the oldest of three girls. When each of my sisters was born, my mom got me a large baby doll that cried if turned upside down, moderately like a real baby. It was almost like we both had a new baby to look after and it gave me a sense of responsibility. I remember my mom treating me more like her helper and encouraging the activities that I could do because I was older. These days my mom and I are closer than either of my sisters because that early "adult" friendship led into real friendship when I actually became an adult.

Tasha said...

We just had our second child a year ago (Jan 8th of last year!) and we worried about this also. My mother-in-law gave me this piece of advice: 9 months is a lifetime to a toddler. I never really mentioned the baby very much in the early stages. Eventually, I started talking about the baby when my belly really popped-- a little bit at a time. He eventually started talking/asking about the baby too. But when he didn't I didn't push it.

Also, I bought my little one a gift that he could open at the hospital, when he came to visit. I told him it was from his new baby sister and he thought that was awesome. Plus, it gave him something to concentrate on so that if he wanted to just take his own time to meet the baby he could.

Now that they are 4 and 1, he sometimes says he wishes he was a baby too--but then we remind him about all the things he can do since he's a big boy. And we always try and have as much one on one time with him as possible. But he loves his sister so much, you can really tell.

Emily and Matt McLaren said...

I vividly remember coming home from the hospital with our second and just balling as I put our first born down to sleep. I felt so sure that I had let him down. The adjustment took time as I grappled with those emotions but as we got into a routine their sweet sibling relationship began to emerge and I realized that all of my stress was for nothing. Now we have 3 boys and sure their are moments where I feel stretched so thin with time for all of them but I know that having brothers has grown them so much as people. They fight and have the normal sibling rivalry but they are also each others best friends and I am sooo thankful that we were able to give them that.

Sarah said...

We have three children, boy-girl-boy, each 2.5 years apart. My husband and I -- both youngest children -- weren't prepared for how jealous our oldest would be. When we brought our daughter home we would catch him squeezing her hand or her arm. After a few weeks he started completely ignoring her and we assumed all was fine. Then he "forgot" how to use the potty...for months! Now they are the best of friends. Fast forward two years to when our little son was born this summer. My daughter was and has remained totally great. She is used to sharing us. But once again, my oldest started showing jealousy. He wasn't mean to the baby this time but he did regress...he had accidents, started wetting the bed again, acted up at school, etc. This from a boy who could swim when he was 3, ride a two-wheeler at age 4, say the ABCs at 18 months! He is an exceptional kid, but kids can't articulate stress and have trouble expressing emotions. Just be prepared for jealousy to show up in different ways, and at any point, even if your son seems fine for months, things might change. I try to remind myself that everything is a phase and just to be patient. Also, for every jealous moment he has, there is a tender one that will break your heart. My daughter still runs to him when Mommy yells :)

Uno Kidney said...

I am expected #2 in late June (I am 20 weeks!) and we have a 4 year old. I have no idea what I am going to do, other than he wants to stay home and "help with the baby" instead of going to preschool. Today we have our ultrasound and are finding out the gender. We are going to have the ultrasound tech tell Gram (our son) if it is a brother or sister and then he gets to be the one that spreads the news to everyone, including me and my husband. But beyond that grand plan, I have no idea how to navigate the actual day to day logistics. I am going to say Yes More...And....that is all I have....

sarah said...

you can't prepare them... and be prepared to have your heart broken. it sounds horrible for me to say that but your relationship with toby will never be the same and can't ever be the same. he can no longer be the focus of your attention all of the time. that is what made me cry the most after the birth of my second (and i cried A LOT!). BUT it is so worth having a second!!! there is SO much toby will get from his sibling that it is worth sacrificing the amazing one on one you have. just another sacrifice moms do for their kids... sigh. anyway, sorry if i freaked you out but i really wish someone had warned me so that i could have been braced for impact!
the best advice i got was to always put your toddler first (in the beginning i mean!) the baby only needs to be fed and kept warm and snuggled. the baby will have needs but the toddler will have emotions and those need to be met whenever possible for the first month or so. if the baby has to cry for a few minutes before you can feed it then so be it. it will be just fine. but if your toddler needs a snuggle immediately then you must tend to that unless your newborn is in some kind of danger (not likely).
it's so tricky in the first few months... good luck! i know you can do it! enlist as much help as you can stand and be prepared to let things go for a while. adding number 2 is so much more of a change, in my opinion, than having your first baby. but boy oh boy do i love both of my little ducks... it's pretty amazing how the heart expands.

sms said...

I remember being very excited about the second baby, but also very sad about the fact that my relationship with my oldest would change. No one seemed to get that. My oldest daughter (I have two) was really excited about having a baby sister (and thank goodness she was a sister) and we were lucky to have family doting on her while I was having the baby. When she got to come to the hospital, she got to hold her sister and she loved it. The only thing I really had to watch was her jumping around the baby if she was laying on a bed or something like that and eventually trying to pick her up, but she was always gentle. The baby is now almost 3 and her older sister carries her everywhere and they are best of friends. I think a lot of us worry too much and they will work it out. Sounds like your son has a very sweet nature and that will come across to his baby sister or brother, too. Oh, and the calmer you stay, the calmer they will be. That is a hard one for me...

Picture perfect day said...

My son did not freak out at all. Not all kids do. Yes he sometimes finds it difficult to share the attention and one on one mommy-kid or daddy-kid times definately help (our goal is to actually take him out together without his baby sister) but really for most kids I think a sibling is the biggest gift of all.

Picture perfect day said...

and oh I was actually 'worried' I would not love my second baby as much as my son (we did not find out the sex until she was born) but I found my heart just grew bigger to accomodate space for her :)

Amy Lauree said...

When our second was born, our first was 2.5 yrs old. She was so excited when we helped her hold the new baby in her arms on the couch. We had so much love and concern for the new baby- especially when the baby cried! I observed my older one biting her nails more (something she doesn't do anymore 9 months later), and getting upset more easily. I found my patience waning for the older one. Yes, it was tumultous at times with all three of us at home crying on the couch some days. It's not easy. But it was still fun, and because it was warm, we spent lots of time together outside, all three of us. And once my husband was home from work or on the weekends, it was a wonderful time for him to spend more one on one time with our older daughter too. He would take her out on errands and swimming so I could nap with the baby at home. That time was so amazing for me to get to know the new baby but for my older one to not feel left out- she actually got more time but with the other parent! And like you will have seen with Toby, it does get easier the bigger they grow and your skills at multi-tasking with two will also improve!

stefana said...

One way my mom prepared me for my little brother was to make me tell her about all the ways i would spend time with him, the games we could play together, the stories i would tell him, the songs we could sing... I was only 3 at the time but it really helped me imagine him as part of my life in a way i could really enjoy it as well.

jdg said...

hi! i think the fact that you are even concerned about this transition, shows that you are a great parent. i had baby 2 about 4 months ago, when my first was just a little past his 3rd bday. he was always very jealous if held another baby, and thru out my pregnancy would say 'NO BABY!' alot. we were very worried!!!!! but it turned out to be fine (so far....)

my biggest advice: during your pregnancy if you cant do something you would normally do (like hold toby) dont blame it on the pregnancy/baby, but instead say something like 'i cant hold you know, my back/foot/elbow whatever will get sore' rather than 'i cant hold you because i might hurt the baby, etc' the other thing, i forget where i read this -but i read it somewhere - dont have older child come to hospital if you can help it. i think for some kids its super overwhelming to see their mother in a different place, a weird bed, etc. esp at 3 yrs old!!! we knew my son would have freaked out. it was better for him to stay home, getting tons of attention with his grandparents while i was away. also day after baby2 was born, my husband took him out on an 'adventure' - the short hills mall - to buy me a gift and have lunch just the 2 of them....

starting around 35 weeks i would tell him that grandparents will be coming to stay while i go to the doctor to get the baby. i tried not to make a big deal abotu it, or talk too much about it. when we brought baby home, my husband carried baby inside, and i immediately went to older son and hugged him and kissed him and we played with a new toy that was his 'big brother' toy.

oh, and we had a few books about new baby - we would just leave them open in his play area (i do that anyway with his favorite books) and he would often flip thru them on his own. he never let me read it to him thou!!!

we made no fuss about the baby at all for several weeks. daddy pitches in a lot more than the first time around!!! yes, baby 2 has to cry a bit more than the first (i had to put baby 2 down so i can wipe 3 yr old butt) but just this past week 3 yr old is 'helping' by throwing out diapers and wiping baby spit up! you will be fine, things change and just try to do your best to make special time with toby. you will be great!

Casey Elizabeth said...

I don't have kids yet but I'm a nanny for two sweet little girls, two years old and four months, and I just went through this with them. At first, Ms. Two was a little jealous I think. If I was doing something to care for the baby and couldn't attend to her request right at that minute, she would get upset (as two year olds will). I discovered that having some one on one time with her while the baby napped really helped. I also found myself snuggling and kissing the new baby more than Ms. Two so I try to make a conscious effort to hug her, tickle her and let her know that I love her just as much as the baby. Now, I think we've moved into baby normalcy because Ms. Two is secure in the knowledge that just because there is a new baby, she won't be passed over or less cared for.

On another note, my mom likes to tell the story about bringing my baby brother home. I was two at the time and the oldest so it was quite a change. After about a week, I told her "His mommy can come take him home now." We obviously kept him. ;) Don't worry! Toby will adjust as all children do. So excited for you guys!!!

Eli said...

Me and my younger sister are 3 years apart and I vaguely remember that when my younger sister was born, my parents got me a new toy--a firetruck and a fireman hat--and told me it was from my new sister. Somehow that helped at the time--that isn't to say that me and my sister got along well the rest of the time once she was older.

Lynn said...

My ex boyfriends mother gave him a Spiderman costume and said it came from Baby JJ. There's an adorable picture of him holding the baby in it.

michelle said...

I have three children, all between 20-21 months apart. You keep the older child's routine the same as much as possible, especially at bed time. Make them feel special, we had them open up a small present when we brought the baby home, we told them it was a gift from the baby. Sounds corny, but it worked each time. Hype up the big brother role, have Toby help you out, ask him to get you a diaper, wipes, burp cloth, etc and thank him and praise what a great big brother he is for helping you. God bless those baby swings and lounge chairs. It allowed me to nurse the baby, set her/him down and then focus on the other children while they waited for me to finish.

One of the best bits of advice was from our mutual friend Sharon Beesley, she told me that at some point two (or more) of the children will be crying. When you only have one, you can attend to their needs, but you can't when there's more than one in tears. So you just have to choose one and deal with them first, then the next, etc. It's heartbreaking at first, but in the end, good for all. My children have learned patience and it seems the younger ones handle minor things much more smoothly because they have learned to deal with things on their own.

I remember thinking about how my other children were doing WHILE I was at the hospital in labor. I was so worried about their reactions. One final tip, when you introduce Toby to his new baby sister/brother, film their meeting. Some of my most favorite videos of my children are when they were first introduced to their siblings.

Love your blog, you're a great mother and you'll be an even better one with another to love. xoxo

heyheyerinmay.com said...

I am the oldest (and only girl) in a family of four kids, and while for me the addition of each brother didn't seem to alter my feelings of getting enough parental attention, I know that it greatly affected each of my brothers in turn to no longer be "the baby". I also know that, deep down, my maternal and responsible side comes from having so many younger siblings, and I love that trait in myself.

One of the best ways to look at new siblings is as new best friends for life. My mom always says that we are more closely related to each other genetically than we will ever be to anyone else, and something about that bond has really made my brothers and I this little clan.

Amy said...

Joanna, a friend of mine with five kids very close together, gave me this tip and we used it with great success. In addition to older siblings feeling squeezed out, dads can often feel adrift with less attention from their sweetheart and not always being able to do a whole lot to comfort their new baby. So, we've always really talked up how when the new baby arrives there's going to be lots more special Daddy time. Daddy time is always a treat and when our son got to spend extra time with his dad, it helped ease the transition from three to four, and was a great way for my husband to help out, by giving me some quiet time with the new baby and giving extra love to our sweet boy, and helping him into his role of big brother:)

Shelley said...

I know someone who gave their daughter a baby doll to take care of so they could be moms together :) It helped a lot! She even went to the toy store to "adopt" the baby and got a few things to set up a mini nursery. The whole "no baby!" stuff stopped because she was just as excited to be a little mommy.

I'm not sure for boys...he could become a little daddy hehe :) It could work!

Other than that I'd say spend lots of one on one time for now and make sure to get some time once in a while after the baby comes.

Amy Archer said...

i have 4 brothers and 1 sister so my moms time was really spread thin between all of us.
what she would do is have mommy dates with each of us one day a week, on our day of the week we got to choose what to eat for dinner and helped her make it. and during the day she would take us out for lunch or something we wanted to do. just the two of us.
it was nice to have time with just my mom, and being away from the house made it better cause the other siblings couldn't bother her with homework or anything like that.

Emily said...

I have 3 kids and when I brought the youngest two home I feared I was ruining my child's perfect life. However, they adjusted much better and quicker than I did. And, it helps that they have short memories...they will forget in just a few short weeks what life was like before the baby. That said, my children always acted up a little just because they got less of my attention. So be prepared with some simple games, sticker books, etc. for when the baby comes and you need some quiet activities to do together while you are also caring for the baby. It will be an adjustment, but it will hopefully happen quickly and it will all work out!

LittleMy said...

Buy this book! I don't have babies yet but I love this book because the illustrations are so beautiful and it's a lovely way to have a conversation with Toby about the coming baby.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1406331082

Danhiskka said...

I absolutely ignored my brother the whole first month. What a lovely child I was.

My mom was a stay at home mom and my brother used to sleep 18 hours a day, so she have time to play with me. They did the "Big sister" thing, that included a doll to feed-bath-sleep, presents for me from the rest of the family, chores to do every day (for example, I was in charge of putting on the socks and brush his hair) and bedtime just with mommy.

queenbee said...

i am a mother of three. the age gap between the first two was 18 months so i don't think my son jack got it. my third was born three years after my daughter and she was great. i gave her tasks to help me with the baby. getting diapers, finding the pacifier, swaddling, etc. the first few weeks are the hardest because you as a mom are exhausted and getting used to things yourself. but as things got more comfortable and the baby would go down for a nap i would have a mini playdate with my other kids. whether it was dancing or cooking or reading a book. that hour every couple times a day was exactly what we needed to get our "fills" :)

Janssen said...

We just had our second baby eight weeks ago and I worried terribly about these same things. Happily, it's been a very smooth transition (a few tantrums from the toddler, but never any complaints about the baby and she LOVES the baby).

One thing we did that I really liked is that my husband went home and brought our toddler to the hospital. While he was gone, I sent the new baby to the nursery and when my husband and toddler arrived, we ordered a little lunch together from the cafeteria and had a picnic on the bed, so she could see me again and spend some time with us. Only after about thirty or forty minutes together, did my husband and toddler go to the nursery together to go bring back the baby. I think it really helped my daughter feel like she was welcoming the baby into the family, rather than being supplanted (which I think she might have if she'd arrived at the hospital to find her missing mom holding a new baby and expecting her to be thrilled about it). Instead, we got a toddler who entered the room saying, "Mama! We went and got a baby! This is our new baby!" It was very sweet.

aucoindemarue said...

this video explains it Oh so well:
http://fliiby.com/file/732574/gvbm5srdwm.html

I laughed so much when I was pregnant from my second one :)

Erica said...

I am no expert due to the fact that my 2nd one isn't even here yet, but he is due any day now. From the very start my son Oliver has been coming to EVERY doctor appt with me. I do this to make him part of this big change. He gets so excited now to hear the heart beat. I have also read him books about being an older brother and I always change the names to Oliver or baby Max (that's going to be his name) and he loves to hear stories about himself. Oliver also picked Max out a birthday present which he came up with all on his own. I know it's not much but as of now Oliver seems to be very excited about being a big brother. Hope he feels the same way once Max is here.

Ariane said...

It's always hard for the oldest one, I think... A good thing is that you are 2 parents, so you can share your time between both of your children more easily! And you will make time for Toby, not as much as before, but good quality time! Even more meaningfull because less frequent!
It will be different, but not in a bad way! Toby will learn to share his parents, but surounded by love, it won't be that hard. You should look at it as a chance you give him, to learn such a hard thing (to share his parents, not be the center of the world), surrounded by so much love! I was really worried about that while expecting my second boy and afterall, my two sons are very close to each other and very close to both of us, my husband and I. Whenever they are not together, they claim each other! ;-)
It's hard, it's something you'll have to work on, but it's worth it, even for Toby or especially for Toby, I should say! ;-)

Good luck!

PS: Sorry for my english :-/

lauren. said...

I've had this fear with our dog being jealous of a new dog. So, in turn, we haven't gotten one. With kids, I plan to have them so close together the older one doesn't remember live before their sibling.

As an only child, I can offer that perspective. Having a sibling will prolong Toby's childhood, share the responsibility of being your child, give him social interaction, allow him to learn how to live with a peer in his generation, and give him a bond he can't get from anywhere else.

Being an only child is a huge responsibility. Even if Toby acts out for a while, it's worth it in the end.

bisbee said...

You will do most things right and some things wrong, but rest assured...Toby will survive and thrive, even after the sibling joins the family. He may have setbacks (common), but it will work out. The worst thing you can do is worry about it, and overcompensate.

Don't.

Amy Hill said...

I love this idea.

Jessica F. said...

I have a friend who is the oldest of three in her family. She was really little when her sister was born, but 3 when her brother came along. Her parents told her she could name the baby. She was so upset she kept yelling "No!" but always put As at the end of her words- "No-a." Her parents named the baby Noah!

You'll be happy to know that now her two best friends are her younger siblings. It may be rocky in the beginning, but just remember you are giving Toby a lifelong friend and he will treasure that one day.

@Sara: I am a twin and one of the youngest of 4. My twin sister and I are almost 24 years old and having her in my life is such a blessing. We are partners-in-crime and talk multiple times a day even though I live in the Midwest and she lives in Australia! Neither of us have ever felt like we missed out on something by not being "single" babies. We knew pretty early on that being a twin was different - it wasn't until 5th grade that we had classmates that were twins as well!

There are a couple of things you can do to help each twin feel special. Always have two birthday cakes - one for each twin in their flavor of choice. It always bothered me on the years that we only had one cake; my mom would randomly decide which one of us got to pick the cake flavor and I hated when my sister picked chocolate.

Another thing you can do is have special activities/events for each child. Not all the time, but every once in awhile. My sister often baked cookies with my mom, and I would play with my dad. (Which explains why my mom and sister are so close now, and my dad and I.) And please resist the urge to dress them alike! Yes, it is super cute, but often feels dorky. Thankfully, my mom stopped that when we were very young.

One other very important thing you should do, if possible, is to place your children in different classrooms. My twin sister and I had kindergarden together, but separate teachers after. It helped us to feel like individuals and made the transition into junior high (where we were bound to have separate classes) and then college easier. (Yes, we went to different colleges. The first week was hard, but it was ultimately the best decision we could have possibly made.)

Julia said...

I was so excited when my little brother came along-- I could not wait! I was six and I still remember all of my neighbors and preschool teachers telling me how great it would be to have someone to play with right in my house! A lot of the advice and support I remember came from those neighbors and friends, which I think helped me overcome any doubts I may have had if I heard this coming from my parents. (I was crowd-sourcing opinions I guess).

And like many said before, when my brother came, I got gifts too (from my parents and Grandfather) because I was a sister now and that was worth celebrating :) Like heyheyerinmay said above, it's the beginning of the best lifelong friendship!

Nassim Naturals said...

there is a fantastic book I read called siblings without rivalry: how to help your child live together so you can live too. It gives you ideas on the language you use at home, how to resolve issues when they come up...etc. It also makes you answer questions and has cartoons in it. I did not agree with all the methods in the book but it still gives a lot of great ideas!

LMM said...

I'm 21 months older than my brother and I was super jealous when he came home from the hospital. I used to do a special hiss at him (I can still make the exact noise haha) and bite his big round head! But we got very close and still get along really well.

Amy Hill said...

I love this idea.

summerlily said...

My daughter was 27 months old when my son was born. She suprised me and did not act jealous at all! She was very intrigued by him. All children will act different, I think it depends on their personalities. My daughter is/was very independent. When my mother gave birth to my little brother, I was 18 months old, and I was very jealous and upset for about a week. My mother told me she was devastated. I got over it pretty quickly :) My brother being born was the best thing ever...we are so close now! :)

Courtney said...

My daughters are three years apart (almost to the day) and we had zero problems and zero jealousy. We had involved my older daughter from the beginning--she helped pick out things that the new baby would need, we talked about how we were adding to our family and how much she would love her new sister. We read a lot of books and talked about how the baby would need a lot of attention, and about how we would still love her the same amount even after the baby arrived. She and I used to watch "A Baby Story" on TLC together, so she had some idea of what new babies are like, what the hospital is like, etc.
She was sooo excited to meet the new baby, and loved her from the beginning. I think that preparing her in advance for what to expect, and helping her get excited, made all the difference.

Georgianna said...

I had my third baby at home a little over a year ago. My two girls were asleep in their beds and woke up on their own, came up stairs quietly and excitedly searched for their new baby they knew had been born in the night (since I was in labor before they went to bed). They saw her and both gasped quietly and said over and over "she's so cute! she's so cute!" They had automatically adopted a sense of reverence around this new person in the family and loved her the moment they saw her. And they both loved to hear how she has Rachel's cry face or Sydnee's eyes. They love her still and fight over she loves more. A sibling is gift. But it's also a good idea to take a lot of time in the beginning to play board games, read books, and cuddle. Of course there will be bumps in the road, but that's life. You'll get through it together.

Kate Bowen said...

I just have one little sister, and I remember when my parents told me I was going to have a little sister (I was four at the time) - I said "I'll never be lonely again!" I remember feeling excited because I would always have a constant playmate :) Congrats on your new little one!

Elizabethwi said...

My daughter loved being an older sister (at 2 yrs) right from the very beginning. I kept her very involved with "helping" and I used nursing time to also read her stories. (we had to sit and be quiet, anyway, so why not use that as a connection?) The grandparents were also excellent at making her feel special; saying hello to her first when they came over, taking her on dates, bringing her little presents. She was so proud to be the "big sister". I'm actually pregnant now with my third, and more worried about my son, this time around. he'll only be 18 mo. when the new baby is born, and doesn't "get it" in the way my daughter did.

Meagan said...

One thing that seems really important is to hear and acknowledge how a child is feeling. I'm not a mom yet, but I know I often unintentionally correct my niece's feelings and I think that happens a lot with kids and adults (Kiddo: I'm tired. Grown-up: You're not tired, you just had a nap. Or, kiddo: I don't want to go to so-and-so's house. Grown-up: Sure you do, it'll be so fun!). I've seen (and I've heard) that it can really help to just name whatever the feeling is: It sounds like you're feeling anxious about going to ______, or that sounds scary, etc. Do you think that this approach could help Toby, too? It seems reasonable for him (or anyone in a situation like this) to feel some jealousy, or to feel left out, or scared and unsure sometimes. Learning what those feelings are, and not feeling like they are "wrong," could be a really valuable experience, I think.

Erika said...

I am the youngest sibling of 2 kids - 33 months apart. My parents always tried to make things even for us as kids, and make each of us feel very loved. For instance, on my brother's birthday, I would get a small gift; and on my birthday he would get a small gift. Also, my parents would make each of us go to the other's recital/sporting event/school activity. At the time it just seemed like an annoyance, but it was a great way to make sure that we were supporting each other. I recall thinking what it would be like to one day finally be an only child in the house. When my brother left for college, I realized it wasn't so great being the only child. :)

Katherine Dawson said...

Hi Joanna!

I've been reading your blog for a couple years, but I've never commented (except to enter a giveaway :). I was 21 months old when I became a sister and didn't fully grasp the concept of a baby brother until he came home (I thought he'd be a lot more fun - my parents really talked up how he'll be a great buddy).

Before he came, my parents really emphasized that baby Jack is going to be a part of our family, and we will all have to take care of him together. I wasn't jealous at all, and I think it was because I felt a strong sense of responsibility to look after him as the big, strong sister.

When he was tiny, our neighbors gave him a fat, stuffed elephant. I used to sing to my brother by saying "Hello Mr. Elephant, my name is Katherine, and this is my little brother Baby Jack." It's funny how I still remember that - but it shows how I felt a responsibility as his big sister. We were best friends growing up, and we still are today.

elleseesandsays said...

That's such a cute idea! Sounds like a great memory.

Maria said...

I think about this often, since I was an older sibling and cannot say I have a great relationship with my sister. I'm 6 years older, and I think the age difference was awkward, too young to get it and rise above my little sister's antics, too old to be on the same page. I was very excited to have a little sister, but to me that meant a Barbie doll, so when she learned the word "no", I was not ok with that! I was very thoughtful and I think having an older sister "mentor" would've been helpful. I adored my older cousins, maybe having the big sister periodically talk to me about her favorite parts of being a big sister and how important a role it is would have been helpful. I also remember always feeling like my parents always took her side b/c she was the baby. As an adult I realize this, at least in part, was probably just sibling jealousy. But, I think making both kids feel heard when there are disagreements is important. I also don't remember my mom, one of 4 girls (but a younger sister so maybe she didn't think about what it's like to be the oldest), ever talking to me about how special it is to have a sister and what she loved about having sisters. I think that would have helped, too.

here, have a feather. said...

The love egg has become a treasured moment with my single child. It's a sweet, playful way to help with her separation anxiety. She keeps a few 'in her pocket' if she needs them and they can also be sent via text to her father's phone when we're apart. Now she even gives me love eggs from her. Much gratitude for that original post!

joke said...

My brother was really jealous when I arrived, and I have the scars to show for it, but I won't tell you the horror stories ;) I shared your fear while pregnant. I was afraid my daughter would get jealous and would turn away from me. I was afraid of traumatising her ;) And I wondered if I could love two children the same way. I have a daughter of 3.5 and a son of 2 months. We didn't stress the fact that a new baby was coming too much while I was pregnant, we just talked about it when she wanted to, and apparently she talked about it at school quite a lot. She changed her mind about wanting a brother or sister and luckily never changed her mind to wanting a dog instead of a baby like one of her school friends :-o She also got a new bed and her old one stayed in her room (they have to share for now). I think it helped visualise the fact that someone would join us, and that he would be needing a place to sleep.
Once our son was born, my parents brought her to visit the baby each day when I was in hospital and I let her climb on the bed to lie with me (and sometimes the baby) and I would just talk to her about how her day had been. Now I try to spend some quality time with her, doing things she likes and to get her involved and not to push her away when breastfeeding for example. I let her get in the breastfeeding pilow with me whileher brother drinks at the other side and talk about her day in the mean time, or we read a story. She can "help" bathe her brother and we let her take him on her lap. So far she's really enthousiastic, the only "problem" is that she is a little naughtier (also at school I found out today). Her teacher also thinks she is trying to "steal" attention for herself and find her place in the new situation, but so far so good I think. She even asked me when the next baby would arrive since she still hasn't got a sister yet, but she will have to be happy with just a brother :)

Amanda Swann said...

That's a tough one because no matter how much preparing you do, you don't know how your little one is going to act until baby gets here. My oldest took on a mothering roll when her brother arrived and did great. Then for baby #3, my 3 year old was pretty mad at me. He didn't want much to do with me actually. My saving grace was that daddy tried to be around a lot and do the fun things that I couldn't do. He became a major daddy's boy, but that was alright when I had a baby that needed me. It's just starting to level out now and things are better. I guess that's the one thing to remember that no matter what you do, it's going to be an adjustment for everyone. Just be patient and understanding and it will work out.

The Cheeky Cafe

Holly said...

We had our second son in August, and I was worried at first about my oldest's reaction. My mom came to stay with him while we were in the hospital, and she brought him to visit us the day after Hank was born. When we invited Jed (then 3 and a half) to come sit on the bed and look at Hank, Jed hid behind my mom and said "I don't like it!"

I felt like my husband and I had done a really good job preparing Jed for his baby brother--constant talks, letting him pick out a couple of new outfits and toys for the baby, having him help us set up the cradle, reading LOTS of stories about new siblings, and getting to come to every doctor appointment to hear the heartbeat and see him on the ultrasound. When Jed reacted that way, my husband said "that's okay. Do you want to come explore the hospital with me?" and that was that. We didn't try to force any interaction between them, and let Jed get to know Hank on his own terms.

I think whatever you can do to let Toby feel like his feelings are valued and heard will go a long way to making that transition easier. Yeah, his life IS going to change. You are going to be busy with the baby a lot. But while the baby is new, let Alex do everything but nurse so you can spend time with Toby. Read to Toby while you feed the new one. Eventually, Toby will be unable to remember life without his baby, and that is the way it's supposed to be.

My son Jed is SO in love with his younger brother that it's rediculous. And it only took about 2 weeks.

isabelqn said...

Hello Joanna,

I am an older child and me and my sister have the same difference as Toby and your new baby will have. As I was really young I do not remember what my reaction to a new baby was, but it doesnt seem to have caused me any kind of trauma :) My mum has never mentioned anything either.

When my parents had another baby though, it was a different story. There is a 7-year gap between my baby brother and me so I was old enough to understand. Upon receiving the news that we were going to have a brother/sister, me and my sister were so happy that we started shouting baby while running around the house with our baby dolls haha.

I think the important thing here is to make sure the older child still feels special. I remember we did most of our family activities together, but occasionally my mum or my dad would take us out individually, even if it was just to go grocery shopping or going to the doctor's, and it would be the perfect time to cement that one-on-one relationship.

Well anyway good luck with the pregnancy and congratulations :)

xx

Isabel

Holly said...

*ridiculous. I cannot spell that word to save my life!

Jane Heathcliff said...

I have 3 kids and to be honest jealousy wasn't (and isn't) a huge issue. My daughter is the oldest, she was only 18 months when her first brother was born. We made sure to get her a small gift (stuffed animal) when he was born, it was his gift to her. She loved him from the moment she laid eyes on him and he was HER baby. We did the same thing with both of them when their younger brother was born (they were 5 and 3). Never a problem. The first time we really had any jealousy issue was when the baby got sick and had to be in the hospital. They had a hard time with it mainly because you can only spend so many weekends with the grandparents before you start thinking your parents don't want you! (Baby is in and out of children's hospital a lot even now and its been over a year since it started). The most important lesson I have learned is to try and sneak in some one on one time REGULARLY, if they know they will have some time with you say on Wednesday morning it they are going to be a lot less likely to act out on Tuesday night!

http://answersfromcupid.blogspot.com

clb422 said...

When my due date was getting close we took our 2 yr. old son to visit the hospital where his brother would be born. We went up to the maternity ward to look at the babies in the nursery. The nurses even took us into an empty maternity room to look around. After months of reading sibling books and talking about becoming a big brother this seemed to finally make things real for him. He knew where mommy would be and where he would get to meet his brother. This trip took some of the mystery away and really got him excited to meet his little brother.

joke said...

O, what was a big help though was that 4 of her class mates became big brother/sister in the months leading up to the birth of her brother, so she saw the situation as something normal I think. The teachers also organised "big brother/sister" parties for each of these children and made a gift with the entire class. That all helped to make her feel proud :) She walked into the classroom shouting "THE BABY HAS ARRIVED" apparently on her first day back at school (my mom told me)

amiechristo said...

I'm the oldest of eight and my sister and I are 18 months apart, so I don't think I quite understood what was going on. But I do know that every time I got a new sibling, my parents gave each of us a little gift when we got to the hospital. They'd pick them out before hand and my mom would be the one to give them to us when we went to see our new sibling for the first time.

My sister and I were really close, too. So close that, when she got injured and had to go to the hospital for stitches, she sat on the bed wailing for me to get in the room because she needed me to hold her hand.

Even with eight siblings, minus teenage angst, I always, always knew my parents loved me as equally as the others. We don't always get alone time with our parents, but my parents have done such a wonderful job of making sure that we learn how to be able to spend time together. Now we look forward to playing board games, watching movies, going grocery shopping, cooking, all of that we do together. I've talked to other people and they always seem to marvel at how well we seem to get along and at how much we genuinely truly enjoy spending time together.

Besides: it is really so much fun to be able to Skype home and have all these faces clamouring to get to talk to you and tell you about what they're learning in second grade or how they're the top of their hockey league or the fact that they're spending the night at their friend's house this weekend. My baby brother is simply fascinated by the fact that when I Skype home, it's dark out and there's still sun outside his window.

I think it's really up to how you handle it as a parent. Your children will follow your example and as long as you let them know that you still love them and think they're special, things will work out.

Kate said...

I was very nervous about our first-born son forgetting that he was ever the only child since he was one 2.5 when his sister was born. I was very cognizant about making the most of our story time and cuddle time before baby was born. BUT, I failed to think about how awesome it is to be a sibling, and to see him embrace this role is such a joy! It's a challenge, at times, to navigate motherhood for 2 rather than 1 kiddo but so, so amazing to watch them interact independent of you that those challenges pale in comparison.

Good luck!

LMN said...

I was five when my baby brother was born, and when my parents told me I was going to be a big sister, I asked if we could get a dog instead! My parents kept me involved before the birth, and each of my parents and I picked out our chosen name for the baby (my mom unilaterally overruled both of us while in labor... now I can't imagine him being named anything else). I do remember feeling slightly put out that I didn't get to determine the family's agenda all the time, but my parents also went out of their way (as they always did) to make sure I got a lot of attention. I spent a lot of time with my dad, who took me on fun outings and taught me to ski so we had an activity for just the two of us. My brother and I definitely bickered growing up, but I was very protective of him when he was a baby (I have a distinct memory of getting VERY angry at a doctor who took my brother's rectal temperature when I accompanied my mom to his appointment... ha!).

Mary said...

I think this is something most mothers worry about, and I also think that in reality it often ends up being no big deal. My son was 2 and 1/2 when his baby brother was born. I brought him a box of matchbox cars as a present when the baby was born, telling him it was a present from his baby brother. He was proud and excited right away. There were moments when he wanted me to pick him up or do something that I just physically couldn't because I had a baby in my arms, but otherwise he took it in stride. And of course it doesn't take long for them to realize they can't imagine/remember life before the new baby. One on one time occasionally is always a good idea, and I think it gets more important as they get older. But even in the early years...nightly stories with Toby can happen after the baby goes to sleep, for example. You'll find time to give him the attention he needs.

The-Pastry said...

best advice i ever got for older sibling/new baby -- when the baby gets here, talk to her/him at times solely for the sake of your older child hearing. say things like "i'll be with you in a minute, new baby. right now i'm busy reading a book with toby." or "i'm going to be doing something really important for a while with toby but as soon as we're done, i'll come see you. you're next!" helps your first born feel like he still gets be your number one rock star!

Jenn said...

Hi Joanna!

I am a mommy of two boys (ages 7 and 2). I know the age difference is a bit more significant than what Toby will experience, but I wanted to share anyway.

We shared the same fears when I was nearing my due date with our second baby and we couldn't have been further from the mark. Our oldest has absolutely loved being a big brother and has been more helpful than we could've dreamed of. It has also allowed for us to have one on one dates with him and when our second got a bit older we would even go our just the three of us to have special times so he hasn't felt left out.

He understands the time and attention our little one requires, but we have always made sure to include him and explain things to him very well.

They are best friends!

Best of luck!

Katrina said...

To sort of take some inspiration from the wife analogy, maybe instead of presenting it as you and your husband are having a new baby, present it from the angle that Toby is getting a new brother or sister. i.e. You're doing it for him. Maybe bring you and your husbands siblings into the discussion and explain how you want him to have a sister like you have a sister, etc.

Circa Style said...

I was really, really young (17mos) when my sister was born, but I do remember little bits of it. I remember my parents telling me I'd be the Big Sister like it was big honorable job I had to do (we really never ran into jealously issues).

I also remember proudly wearing a shirt that said "I'm the big sister" to the hospital the day she was born and proudly proclaiming that to everyone around me!

elleseesandsays said...

I second this. I am also the oldest of three girls and I can't remember a time when we weren't the best of friends. My mom tells me I used to "invite" my baby sister to my stuffed animal picnics, to take walks with me, to sit next to me at dinner (I was three at the time). Childhood memories are some of the most special kind, and I'm so glad I get to share them (and recount them over and over) with my sisters.

Chelsea said...

I was 9 when my younger sister was born. I remember feeling not ignored or not loved, but left out. All these people would come over and pay attention to everyone else besides me. I still remember one of my parents friends coming over after my mom and sister came home from the hospital... she came in, came right to me, gave me a stuffed dog. this was the first time I was given something new and not my mom or sister. i still remember /beong so happy that someone was thinking of me too!

Jessi said...

I'm the oldest of 3 children... 3yrs between my sister and i, 5yrs between my brother and i.

the VERY first best day of my life was the day my sister was born. the second... when my brother was. we are all 3 of us very close... and while yes... there have been tiffs between us... i would never have it any other way. my parents always let us figure out our own problems... they weren't referees to any arguments.

i've always felt loved by my parents... never had a bad feeling about it. i think if you make a big deal out of it...he'll react accordingly.

after all, you're not splitting your love between Toby and the new baby... you just grow more love!

Kelly Anderson said...

My daughter was 26 months old when her baby brother joined us and it presented zero problems. My belief is that in large part, its what the parents make of it. We let Cloveleigh tell us where she wanted certain pieces of furniture for her brother to go, she helped me stock baskets with baby wipes, she picked out lotions and soaps at the store. She test drove strollers by both pushing and riding in them as the big day approached. On delivery day, she brought a gift for baby Banner and Banner had a gift for her. We had a big piece of chocolate cake (taboo in our household) waiting for her at the hospital to celebrate baby Banners birthday with us. Once we were home, we made sure to pair off and have special time with her individually, whether it was a walk, a run to the grocery store or mid day snuggles while Banner slept. Try to let go most of your resolve and let the attraction happen as it will, on it's own, and if Toby acts wild, crazy, defiant etc once you're all 4 home sweet home, always take a few minutes of time to get on your knees, look him in the eyes and say "I know...isn't this new creature beautiful but isn't this whole thing also completely WEIRD?!" and let him understand that it's new and different for each of you, not just for him :)

Melanie said...

I loved being a big sister to my little brother who was two years younger then me. My mother told me that when he was in her belly I would ask all kinds of questions about him. She told me that when he arrived home I was in shock but once people started coming over my mom asked me to introduced my new little brother to the world. That always stayed with me and still I love introducing my brother to new people I meet, I am proud to be his big sister.

Leslie said...

Honestly, I think we make too much out of this topic. I have 3 kids and the transition has been fine. As with many things baby/kid related, just go with the flow and things will work themselves out. To over think and try to "prepare" for something you have no idea of, gets a little nutty. Like preparing for a newborn. You can't, you don't know what to prepare for.
Love your first child the same way you always do and everyone will be fine.

Lindsey said...

I was almost 5 when my sister was born, so for me a big thing was that I was going to get to help take care of the new baby. Also, I desperately wanted a pound puppy at the time(remember those??) and lo and behold my baby sister brought me one from in the womb. So thoughtful! I immediately thought she was the nicest little sister ever. That lasted until she was old enough to start being annoying, and then I thought I'd kind of gotten a raw deal with that pound puppy :)

Lizzy said...

I am expecting a second boy in May. A friend suggested that we not talk about the new baby before he is born and that, once he arrives, we act like he is a new piece of furniture or something else to be admired but mostly ignored. As of now, Mateo, my two-year-old, knows that he has a baby brother in my stomach, and he has a book about being a big brother, but I try not to make too big of a deal out of it (even though I am so excited!).

cindy said...

Wow, you have so many devoted readers, Joanna, wonderful comments!

I am going to comment on this post because I am a mom to three now looking back as Will, our youngest is about to graduate from high school. (I may be one of your oldest readers!) You mentioned Penelope Leach, who was my most trusted source for advice when I was a young mother. I was raised by British descent parents and she felt so sensible and wise to me.

I was completely worried about this issue as we were awaiting the arrival of our second child, Susannah. Ben, our first child, was the light of my life and in my eyes, a perfect child. I was so worried I would ruin him and our relationship. To be honest, what you have with Toby will never change until he is a teenager and then he will return as he hits his mid twenties.

However, the life you three have now will be gone. Your family life is going to change and go in another direction. He WILL be jealous but he may show it in subtle ways as our Ben did because he knew overt jealousy was not going to be accepted by us, his parents. There is a sadness about it. The new baby deserves the same love, attention and care that the first child received but it is impossible to do this. We all do the best we can and you will too.

Some people split the family up on weekends to have one on one time with each child. We did NOT feel comfortable doing this as we all missed each other when separated. You can focus on one on one floor time with Toby when he draws and paints, builds Legos and puzzles and of course reading books as much as possible with baby in your lap and without when baby is sleeping. We also focused on Ben being the responsible one, looking out for his sister's safety, etc. Not sure if this was fair or not but he seemed to take pride in his role. She adored being in his presence from a young age, they are still close to this day, both are in their twenties. He is 3 and 1/2 years older than she is.

You are so conscientious and caring, you will do the right thing but enjoy these next few months with your little man as you are about to start a new chapter!

Melissa said...

Congratulations, by the way! I hope you're feeling well. And thanks for sharing this with us.

My 3-year-old little lady had a pretty rough time adjusting to her 6-month-old brother's arrival. She's a loving, sensitive, and incredible sweet little girl who gets along with everyone, so I thought we'd have a pretty easy time of it. I'm the oldest of four girls, and I don't remember feeling jealous at all, so again, I thought it'd all be swell. Well, it was a harder than I thought it'd be. We've mostly worked through things now. A few things helped:

1. Recognize that the more attached your child is to you (the mother), the more difficulty he may have adjusting.
2. Know there may be backsliding with sleep and potty training.
3. Come up with a plan for times like nursing, which really upset my daughter. I learned to set her up with something to do (coloring, painting, etc.) while my attention was on my son.
4. Talk to your child about her feelings and let her express that sometimes she loves her brother and sometimes she doesn't. It's hard to be the big sister (or brother).

You'll be great!

Cheers,
Melissa

P.S. I think Toby and I have the same ukulele.

Laura Zizzo said...

I agree, as a mom of twins I'd love to hear this perspective. They are 21 months now and we are contemplating, gulp, a third (hopefully it's just a third). Now that they are almost 2 they are starting to fight over me more, full on tantrums when one is getting attention and the other one comes by to "distract" me. I never really got that special one-on-one time to bond independently when they were babies...I tried, but it was hard, part of the reason I want a 3rd. but would love to hear a grow-up twins perspective on sharing with your twin.

Ana Sofía Ruiz said...

I don´t have children yet, but I´m a second child. My mom says that when I was born it was really difficult with my brother because he got jelous of me. He kept trying to hurt me (bite me, poke my eyes, pinch me, etc.), but then he also was nice to me and made stories up: that when we grow older he would take me to the movies to watch "Lady and the Tramp". I think my parents did a good job, my brother and I would play a lot and accompany each other, and he has grown to be a good friend in our adult stage.

It may be difficult for Toby at first, but with time and love, everything will be allright and he will grow up learning to be loved and to love and care for his brother/sister.

Lindsey Hoover said...

I suppose I would try to emphasize the whole family picture, rather than focus on individual roles. Maybe tell Toby that some families are small and some families are big and that his family is just getting bigger-that he has a sibling that he can have fun with and love, who is making the family he loves already, bigger.

No matter what it seems that it will be difficult, but you are a great mom and everyone will adjust in time-hopefully sooner than later!

Ana Sofía Ruiz said...

Oh, I forgot to mention: it may be great for Toby to get involved in the process, so he doesn´t feel replaced rather than part of everything. Have him draw a picture for his sibling, or choose the baby´s outfit. Little things like that. Everything is gonna work out great! :)

Eli Sedlachek said...

Hi Joanna, this is my first comment on your blog and I love every minute spent browsing it. As to the topic, I am a mum of one and having a younger brother (only a year) it is difficult to give any advice. But I am sure you will find the way to share all the love you have for two of your greatest joys in the world as a loving and compassionate mother and woman I have found on this blog. Looking forward to more 'belly pictures' xxx

www.todaymyway.com

Rene said...

I am one of six children, and I'm smack in the middle. I was 2 and half when my brother was born, I don't remember being upset about it, or jealous. I do remember sneaking into his room to watch him sleep during his naptime - that's a fond memory. I think I was fascinated. Mostly, my older siblings (one 4 years older and one 8 years older) thought I was a brat and a pest, but I remember seeing so much potential in this new younger brother - my very own playmate - a special friend. And he was, I remember that we had SO much fun playing together when he got a little older. Mostly, I remember laughing hysterically with him over the silliest things and reenacting our favorite parts of our favorite cartoons (Disney's Robinhood stands out).

My mom & dad tell me that I did get a little jealous that the new baby got to nurse - I must have had such fond memories of "nummy" as I apparently called it, that I begged my mom, "Please, can I nummy, I'll be soft soft, I promise." Obviously, she gently explained that I was too big, but I wasn't traumatized - so no worries. In fact, I don't remember that at all - I only have memories of the fun things about the new baby.

I was 7 when my younger sister was born, and that was a fond memory too. I was old enough then to really help with the baby. I could change her diaper and feed her and entertain her. I was always up in her face. She was like my life size baby doll. As we got older she became pesky, but now we are adults, and we are best friends.

My youngest brother was born when I was 14 - that's a whole different story. He's great, wonderful and cute, but that's an age gap I wouldn't recommend. My parents did have a built in babysitter though :).

I think it's hard for a young child like Toby to understand what it means to have a new baby on the way or added to a family until the baby is born. My 2-year-old nephew largely ignored his baby sister when she was born. It wasn't until she was a few months old and could actually interact with him on some level that he became interested. Now they are 8 and 6 and they are buddies - its fascinating to see how they've grown up and become so close.

I think the key at whatever age is to involve kids. I imagine from a kids perspective (or at least, this is what it was like in my family) a new baby is a family affair. Mom and Dad and older siblings are a team and the new baby is just the newest member - it's more of a process than an event.

Kim said...

we did all of the traditional things with my son when i was expecting my daughter... read him books about new siblings, bought him a gift from his new sister to open at the hospital, made sure we paid him plenty of attention when we got home, etc.

but i also need to remind MYSELF that a sibling is the best gift i could give my son. and now three years later it has proven to be true. my son didn't have any problems when my daughter was born, and my kids get along better than most seem to, so maybe i was/am lucky in that regard. the only thing that was a bit tough for me was when my son came to visit us in the hospital and didn't want to interact with me - i think he was a little nervous about the hospital room, the machines, etc. we're expecting a third now, and i think i'll take both older kids to the hospital beforehand so they can see where i'll be and know what to expect when they come to meet the baby.

but really, it's not so different than anything else you would choose for your child. you're the parent and you know best what works for your family. if toby wanted to eat nothing but candy - would you let him? probably not, and he might throw a fit. it's not so different with giving him a sibling, really. this is just a lot more easy for you to feel guilty about. he might throw a fit about this, too. he's little and doesn't understand. but i think someday he'll thank you. i don't know any people (personally) that regret having a sibling, but i do know some that wish they had one.

pasos said...

Joanna,

When my parents had my brother I was 4. I remember my parents including me in all the talks about the baby. What should we name him? What do you think he'll look like? I got a T-shirt that said Big Sister! I was over the moon. When my little baby brother actually came, I know my parents made it a point to have "special time" with me as they called it. I would have a date with my mom one weekend every month (give or take). For several hours she and I would go somewhere fun to eat, get ice cream and go mini golfing. I think having that special time just between my mom and I helped me transition. It also gave me something to look forward to when I was maybe feeling sad not being the center of attention. My parents made sure I was very involved with my brother. I was to make sure I watched out for him. He was ours. I personally can't remember ever feeling left out or pushed aside when my brother was born. I think children are able to adapt, welcome and accept a new baby much better than one might think.

Charlotte said...

Oh I get this post so much! My son is almost three, and our daughter is four months old. Before she was born, we talked about the "new baby" a lot, and read the Berenstain Bears book about getting a sibling. That really seemed to help! My son referenced it a lot after she was born. We certainly had some acting out, but expecting that ahead of time is very helpful in handling it.
One random tip that my friend with multiple children gave me: don't bring the older sibling to the hospital to see you and the baby only to send them home without you, it can be traumatic. We waited to have the kids meet until we were all going home together, and my son still talks about the day he picked us up from the hospital. Of course this wouldn't do if it was a longer stay, but for just two days it suited us fine.

P.s. My son adores his little sister, it's an absolute blessing to have two children.

Irene said...

My son- 21 months at the time- was unphased by his newborn sister, and in fact the hardest thing was not letting him pick her up! When she was six months old though, and began crawling and becoming more interested in toys, he really began to take issue with her. For several months it was pretty rough, but around the time she was ten months old and starting to assert her personality and becoming a little more interesting as a playmate, they actually began playing together a bit! Now at 12 months, sharing is still an issue, but they often play happily together.

One thing we did for those early days as a family of four was to hire a postpartum doula. It helped with the transition tremendously and allowed us to have one on one time with each kid.

alex said...

I'm twenty years old, and I have a younger brother..I'm about two and a half years older, and he is also severely disabled. What I remember most from his infancy and the times my parents needed to focus on his disability was that I was only really upset when my parents would go back and forth. I understood that my parents needed to care for my new sibling, but when we would be in the middle of a game or a conversation and they suddenly switched their attention, that stung. My advice would be to set aside time for just Toby in addition to time for the children together. If you and your husband are at a point where you need to hand off the baby or switch roles, wait for a good stopping point with whichever child occupies your time. Best of luck <3

jenko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
j said...

i wanted a little sibling so badly, so when my brother was born about 4yrs after me, i was over the moon. my parents would find me in his crib all the time, because i wanted to watch over him. i also apparently tried to breastfeed him because i was so obsessed with taking care of him!! maybe coming from an asian household was a bit different; there is a lot of respect and responsibility placed on those who are older. i was always "second mom" in the house and my word was as good as mom's (even 28yrs later, this is still true! :P); i still take a tremendous amount of pride in taking care of (then), and now, supporting my brother. i never felt left out, but i think that sensitivity comes with certain dispositions. i was actually far more jealous of other adults taking my parents' time, than i was of my brother. i saw us as a team, and still do!!

Amanda said...

We've been spending lots of time talking about being a big brother, and my husband and I talk about when our baby sisters were born. Soon after I told my son that he was going to have a baby sibling, he asked me whether I'd still be his mom. Heartbreaking. But I'm so glad he asked instead of worrying about it. And it prompted me to remind him often that he will always be my baby, that I'll always be his mom, no matter what. As we get closer to the due date (and there is less room on my lap!) I've noticed him getting more and more jealous, but I just try to give lots of extra hugs and cuddles.

maite said...

I was the youngest of three daughters for SEVEN years and loved it, and then my little sister was born and I actually couldn't have been happier, it happened very natural and I felt so overprotective of her, would tell visitors off for speaking loudly if she was sleeping, would want to be around every time she was changed, bathed, walked, put to sleep, etc... Its funny, but all the home videos of my baby sister have my little seven year old head poking in somewhere! Its such a huge part of being a family and I'm pretty sure older sisters and brothers everywhere wouldn't change the experience of having a baby brother or sister for the anything world. Toby is lucky and he knows it :)

AmeliaPea said...

Oh, Joanna, Toby will LOVE being a big brother! All the love you've poured into him will enable him to love his little sister even better. I don't find the comparison of gaining a new child/sibling to gaining a new wife very useful, for several reasons. As a child grows, if the relationship is healthy, he/she moves towards independence from his mama, and her role in his life continually changes to adjust to his independence. A husband and wife are partners, and as they grow in their relationship, they are moving towards a healthy form of dependence on eachother, as partners. Toby doesn't expect to be your life partner, he just wants to be your son, and he will always be that.

Lsia C said...

I am a twin so I can offer a perspective for you. I honestly can't remember a time where my parents took my sister and I to do seperate "special" things. However, my sister and I were, and are, the very best of friends. We have always been extremely close. Of course we were given individual attention, but being in a family means you do things together most of the time, at least for us. As we got older, we were certaily allowed to do different activities, and sometimes one of us would get invited to a friends house while one wasn't (which was always hard, especially because we went to a small school.) Then in middle school and high school years I can remember boys liking me, and then my sister a week later. That was weird too. We were very competitive in a healthy way, and because of that we were always trying our best at everything. I really think that was one of the best things to come out of being a twin.

I'm 25 now, and while we went to seperate colleges (across the country from each other), when we graduated we moved in together in a new city. She is so much more than a best friend and sister and I feel so so so blessed to be a twin. It's hard to describe, but honestly, it's kind of like a soul-mate, in a (obviously) non-romantic way. Your girls are beyond lucky to have each other. It is hands-down the best thing in my life. I could go on and on, but I think you guys get the picture. Even when they sometimes feel like they aren't seen as individuals, the bond they have will always outweigh any of the negativity. Never feel bad that they are a twin, its the best thing ever.

Bec said...

My oldest was 2 when our now 3 month old second son arrived. He was marvellous from the word go. I read a great book called 'The second baby survival guide' and there were some great tips in there - from making sure your oldest is not at home when you get home with the baby from hospital (so you can cuddle the oldest first and then introduce him to the baby together', to making sure you always equally praise both the oldest and the newborn. Also try not to make everything about the baby. If baby is screaming at the park because it is due a feed, calmly try to console them whilst also calmly and casually persuading your oldest that you need to go home to play with a new toy, or have dinner, not that you need to leave because the baby is upset. We also had a stock of toy cars which we gave one a week to for the first few weeks to our eldest so he always had something new to occupy himself with!

Natalie Palmer said...

I was three and a half when my first younger brother was born and seven and a half when my second younger brother was born. I remember my mom's pregnancies well! Both times my parents did such a great job of assuring me of their love that I didn't worry about being replaced at all. In fact I remember asking my parents how long it would take for my brother to come out and play! I was also given a doll when my brother came home from the hospital and I was able to participate in all his "firsts" that way. (first bath, first at-home diaper change, etc.) I have very fond memories of that time.

As to the close-ness concern, I am very close to both my parents. I remember that especially early-on after my younger brother came home, she would let me sit next to her while she breast fed and we had one-on-one talking time. :)

I'm sure it seems so daunting, and I am not a mother yet to know exactly what to do, but as an older sibling I am happy to say that I'm pretty sure everything will go well with Toby!

andrea said...

I'm the eldest, and my younger siblings are twins, so I got a double whammy! I don't remember feeling angry or jealous, though I would apparently ask my mom not to go when one of the babies cried. ("They'll be OK!") My mom did a lot special time for me, which I think really helped. When she put my brother and sister down for a nap, she would watch Sesame Street with me, as it was something we could both enjoy.

My boyfriend's brother and sister-in-law recently had a second baby. I was worried their son would flip, as he was pretty attached to mom, but he's apparently done just great. He like to help out with her, and I do think they still give him individual one-on-one time.

Hope this helps alleviate at least a tiny part of your anxiety!

T and C said...

I am the oldest of six kids and honestly, I didn't feel threatened by any of them. By really making me a part of the process and taking me with them to all of them doctors appointments, I felt proud to be the older sister and was so excited for them to arrive! If they feel valued through the entire process, then they are going to feel like they will be valued and loved even after the baby comes. During the course of the pregnancy demonstrate that you love them just as much, that they are still wholly important, and that you see them as a key part of the new baby's arrival. : )

Sarah D said...

My children are just shy of 3 years apart in age. My older one did not have any difficulty whatsoever with the addition of child number two. He was happy, excited, loved her from day one. Yes, there are occassional battles for attention, but nothing out of the ordinary. He did not regress in any way or show any stress at all. All kids are different and there's not way to really know how things will go until they get there.
As for advice, I'd say, don't make a huge deal about baby stuff and don't talk about it all the time. To a young child, July is a lifetime away. He cannot understand the time and the anticipation and waiting and un-knowing is very difficult to handle. We did not tell our older child right away and when we did, we didn't make a huge deal about it. Just kept things very matter-of-fact and it was not the number 1 (or 2 or 10) topic of conversation on a daily basis. I think that helped to keep her arrival natural, low-key, and unstressful.
We had a book about being a big brother, which we read at times. It was just put onto the book shelf and became part of the regular rotation of story books. He also got some special things-- moved out of the crib into a big boy bed, so that the crib could be moved to the baby's room. BUT... we made a big deal about the big boy bed and really didn't even say much of anything about the crib becoming the baby's. So, it was not as if she was taking it from him.
My second was an easy baby, as long as she was held, so she didn't really affect his life too much at first. Newborns are very portable. Get yourself a good sling or carrier, so that you can carry the baby while also being active with Toby. My second LIVED in the sling! She was happy and content b'c she was held and it didn't slow me down in being out with my 3 year old. We would have story time while the baby nursed. And, we never "hushed" anyone while baby slept. They get used to noise.
I'd say really just keep it low key and DON'T STRESS!

en annan said...

Both my boys flipped out when our baby girl was due. Potty training went out the window for a while, amongst other things. But actually, once she was born they came to - new and improved. :-)

We prepared them by telling them, reading books about it, talking (a lot) about what's going on inside mummy's tummy and also (a little) about how the baby ended up there.
We talked about why we had another (and a third, this time around).

Having another baby is ultimately the parent's choice and I believe it's not beneficial for the children to have a feeling they were in any way involved in that decision. However they do well from being involved in the process of expecting. :-) They need time to prepare, just like us, and they (like us) have absolutely no idea of what it's going to be like once the baby's here! :-D

In my oppinion it is important to make sure your decision to have another baby is thought through, so you can quell that sense of guilt towards the sibling/s.
There'll be ONE MILLION times where that emotion will be valid in the future, simply because it's difficult to always be fair, but it's a terrible waste of emotion to feel guilt before the fact! :-)

foreverambie said...

If it makes you feel any better, I am an only child and when I was a kid, I WISHED my parents had another sibling to focus on. As Toby gets older-if he hasn't already-he will want more and more independence. I felt like when I needed my own space, time, independence-as a kid-, it was really hard to find. My parents had just me, and sometimes that made me feel suffocated or like there was too much pressure. Having another baby may just give Toby some space to become more of his own person and to explore and not feel guilty that he's leaving mommy behind on her own:)

en annan said...

It works! We both spend "exclusive" time with our boys. We make sure to do something just the two of us and make it special - it might be something super simple like going grocery shopping and really talking/listening to the boy in question, sometimes it's something more extravagant like going to the cinema etc. But it doesn't take much! :-)

I bring my middle son to aikido-practice every Saturday, that's "our" special time. We talk, play, and have so much fun.

And I try to catch them and cradle them, kiss them and tell them I love them as often as I can (at least once a day).

Kate said...

I don't have children (yet!), but can speak to this as an older sibling - my parents got me a kitten when my brother was born and I was two years old. I had my own "baby" to cuddle and love while the new real baby was in the spotlight. That kitten lived until I was 21 and my brother is my absolute best friend - so things have a way of working out for the very best even if they are a little rocky in the beginning.

Kate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
en annan said...

Don't stress if you don't feel "right" straight away, for me it took a long while before I could feel "the same" love for my second as I did for the first. I was horrified and deeply distressed by it. But now, in hindsight I know THAT was a waste of emotion (the stress). :-) The love is unavoidably there, it takes many different forms and varies even as the years pass. But it's there, at the core of your heart - and you will have enough to go around. :-)

Sara said...

Thanks to both of you!
Laura, it sounds like we have a lot of the same questions/concerns, I guess its a normal part of being a mom to twins. I sometimes think about a 3rd for some of the reasons you talk about, but for other reasons it probably doesn't make sense to us.
Lsia C, its so wonderful to read about your experience, its hard as the mom of young twins to see beyond some of the negatives sometimes, especially when they are so young and not really interacting a ton yet. Its heartwarming to hear from older twins who can express what being a twin means to them. Thanks for taking the time to share!

Sara said...

thanks!!

sarah said...

I also don't have children yet, but I know as the oldest of 3 i would not trade the world for my siblings! We are each 18 months apart so there was a time when my mom was home with 3 kids under the age of 4! Bless her heart. I am sure it was crazy but totally worth it. I don't remember every being jealous of my siblings taking away attention. When I found out the third would be a girl I was overjoyed! That meant I got to share a room with her. I also don't remember having much one-on-one time with my parents, all of my happiest memories are us all together. Now that I am grown up I know that I will definitely have more than one!

Sandhya said...

I agree 100%. I am the oldest of four, and we are far enough apart that I remember loving my younger sibs from the moment we met. I didn't really learn to have negative feelings towards them until much later because my parents were TERRIBLE at giving us older kids attention. To them, making sure that we were fed, clothed, made it to school, and did our homework was enough, but remember that what children really want is your affection and positive attention. I love the idea of taking only one child grocery shopping-- any mundane task will feel like wonderful Mommy time to Toby. I grew up thinking that my parents loved my siblings more than they loved me, but I know you will not do the same with Toby! Fill him with cuddles and kisses and give him some special time with each of you every day.

lindsay said...

I was just a few months short of 4 year when my sister arrived. She had colic for 6 months, which made adjustment difficult, but I loved her dearly. I considered myself her caretaker, second of course to mom and dad. My mom set the stage for that by letting me "take care" of her while she was on bed-rest during pregnancy and by explaining to me how important it was to be a big sister. As I watch video-tapes of my childhood, I see my little sis always toddling behind me and myself making sure she wasn't in harm's way. Perhaps it was just my sister's good nature but even as kids we seldom fought and she's my best friend to this day.

www.minipiccolini.com said...

When we were preparing for the birth of our second child I realized I was having trouble finding positive things to focus on since the thought of introducing the new baby to our then 19-month old son was only stressing me out.

I read Sibling without Rivalry and found it straightforward and I think it has some good guidelines that'll be helpful going forward.

There is really nothing you can do to prepare such a small child for something like this, so we just let Alec (19 months) acquaint himself with Louis in his own time and in his own way. We didn't push him into holding him or touching him. Basically he ignored Louis for the first few days, and then I think he just realized that this baby wasn't going anywhere, and since then it has been smooth sailing.

You'll notice though that Toby will get so big so fast! Both because you will see him as a bigger kid just in comparison to the new baby. And also because he will grow up a lot very quickly. And I think the best thing you can do for the older sibling is to just try and carve out as much alone time together as you can get. The family easily gets divided into two teams - Team Big Kid (led by Dad) and Team Little Kid (led by Mom) for the first few months, but then the little one sort of catches up and it evens out. I try to get our with just Alec once in a while and those moments are so special!

It'll be great. A sibling is such a wonderful gift and, in his own time, Toby will be so happy to be a big brother.

fromtheloftabove said...

i come from a massive family (we were in the newspaper for being the biggest family in malaysia!) and without sounding too harsh or being offensive, i think it's a really western thing to think about things like this. both of my grandparents had eight children each, and my great grandmother had 16 children (some of whom were adopted during war time). i doubt that when any of them had those children, they worried about "preparing" their elder child - they just did it, and the elder child just had to accept that there is someone new in the family. when my parents had my sister, i remember acting out once and i got put in my place pretty damn fast by my grandmother (who i am still extremely close to). i think it's really important to remember that you are in charge of your kids, not the other way around, and if Toby acts out, maybe try explaining to him that his sibling deserves just as much attention as he does, and that he's a big boy and can take care of himself sometimes. my grandmother physically disciplined me, and while that might not be your cup of tea, it really drove home the fact that "hang on...it's not all about me. i have to make room for my sister, and i have to learn to share my parents and grandparents' time".

good luck :)

Tristen said...

When my little brother was born (I was not quite two), my parents left me alone with him for a few minutes the day he came home from the hospital "to have some brother-sister time." I don't remember the first time they did this, but apparently they huddled in the hallway with their ears pressed to the door, listening to me speak at first very sternly to him, then a few minutes later laughing and cooing. When they came back in a few minutes later, I had piled all my toys around him, and we were fast friends.

They continued to give us "brother-sister time" every now and then: they would let me push the stroller ahead of them, let me tell him a bedtime story, things like that. I remember feeling very important and mature, like they trusted me, and also like my brother and I were on the same team. No parents allowed! It's brother-sister time! We ended up thick as thieves, and still are to this day.

Melissa said...

When I was 2 1/2 my brother was born. I don't have any memories of life before him. When my mother told us we would be having another sibling, I was 7, I remember being very unhappy. In fact I prayed for another boy and my prayers were answered. I remember going to the hospital and my Mother giving us each a present. My 7 old self was very impressed with the gift and not so much with the wrinkled little baby boy. However, I loved him from the moment I laid eyes on him and never once wished him away.
Good Luck
M (Mother to 5 yr old daughter)

Kate @ Savour Fare said...

The Nuni is a bit older than Toby, but we tried to include her in the process as much as possible. We weren't having a new baby, SHE was getting a brother. She went to one of my ultrasound appointments, we found out the sex early (so we could make it as real as possible for her). And she ADORES Boo. I mean, he is really her favorite person. I do feel like we miss out on some special Mama Nuni time, and I try my best to still read to her at bedtime(a sacred ritual), and we go on Mama Nuni dates - ice cream sundaes, movies, picnics, tea parties.

janesmom said...

My daughter (3 at the time) wanted us to leave her sister at he hospital! Luckily that didn't last long, but I think in part because so many of my friends made a big deal about how the baby was lucky to have her (and not vice versa). Now, 6 and a half years later, it's so very worth it. They are the very best of friends.

Sara said...

Awww! So sweet. :)

Adam Khan said...

its dont nroammly always last i miust say its a hard job let alone hospital stuff its a nightmare. family fare to pakistan

Sara said...

So smart!

thecreamline said...

This great article was on Motherlode a few months before my second was born. Lots of wisdom in the comments. Now I always send it to my friends who are expecting #2.
http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/20/becoming-a-family-of-four/
Two years later, I can say my daugther (#2) was the best gift ever for my son. They are best friends and it's wonderful to see them play and grow together.

Samantha said...

Transitions can always be a bit challenging for children at first, and this will be a big transition! However, he will gain soooo much from having a younger sibling, way more than he will loose.

My suggestion from having worked with young children for many years:

Include Toby in as much as possible. For example, when changing the babies clothes, have him fetch them from the dresser. Have Toby hand you the baby powder when changing the new baby, have him be your little helper. That way he can still be involved but you are still caring for your infant. Of course, he can always say no to helping, but he will probably like helping out mommy.

Good luck, and after a short transition your family will be better than ever and you will feel complete in a way you didn't before.

Samantha said...

Transitions can always be a bit challenging for children at first, and this will be a big transition! However, he will gain soooo much from having a younger sibling, way more than he will loose.

My suggestion from having worked with young children for many years:

Include Toby in as much as possible. For example, when changing the babies clothes, have him fetch them from the dresser. Have Toby hand you the baby powder when changing the new baby, have him be your little helper. That way he can still be involved but you are still caring for your infant. Of course, he can always say no to helping, but he will probably like helping out mommy.

Good luck, and after a short transition your family will be better than ever and you will feel complete in a way you didn't before.

Alecia McLochlin said...

When found out we were expecting our second child (when our first was only 5 months old!!!) we freaked out. We were so worried that we would be taking so much away from her. But my wise sister-in-law and mother of 4 told us, "A sibling is a gift you give your child for life." I thought that was so beautiful and completely different from the fears we had. We worried about taking away from our oldest when, in fact, we would be adding to her life by giving her a best friend, a confidant, a partner in our family. We are so glad we did because now our "Irish Twins" are the closest of friends.

As for advice, I definitely recommend a sibling class at your local hospital. We did that with our girls when we were expecting our 3rd child (Toby's age) and it was fantastic. It's all pretty basic stuff (how to hold baby, never pick up baby without asking Mommy or Daddy first, etc.) but something about hearing from someone OTHER than a parent really made it stick with our girls. It was just an hour class, but we made a day of it with a special lunch and going to pick out a special present for the baby. They even got little graduation certificates from their class. When our son was born a few weeks later, our girls felt so proud that they knew how to hold him.

~Cmac~ said...

I wish I could make you feel better about this, but I can't.

Sophia was 2 months shy of two when we had Charlie. I read her stories about new babies for literally months before he was born. She hated the idea of it and she hated the books! I got her a baby doll to take care of and she threw it on the floor and stomped on it's head. Those were all very bad signs!

And then he came. And she really hated him until he turned two. I'm dead serious. We have zero sweet photos of them together because she refused to be within 5 feet of him. Ask the grandparents. I swear it's true.

We all laugh about now, but back then I couldn't even believe she took it so bad. Oh, and we are a very loving, close family. The behavior she displayed toward her brother was not something she had ever seen within our family unit.

She screamed for two weeks straight after he was born. A well meaning neighbor who did not know us called the police because they thought there must be something wrong with all that screaming! I was beyond mortified when the policewoman stopped by and asked to come in. It took her about 5 seconds to realize that I was the one being abused! I took her to the pediatrician to check for an ear infection - because seriously, who screams that much because they hate their little brother? He looked in her ears and sternly said, "Yep, she has what I call IHateMyBrother-itus."

She has since gotten over it (it only took two years) and they are best friends. We are definitely an example of the worst case scenario. If this happens to you, which it probably won't, I suggest the following:
1) Get a good support system.
2) Take breaks.
3) Know that it won't be this way forever.
4) Go on special one-on-one dates with the older child 2-3x a week. This was the only thing that made a noticeable difference in her stress levels.

I would still do it all over again even knowing how hard it was. Good luck!

Jennifer F. said...

I can definitely second what Lsia C. said about twins. I have a twin sister and we did everything together growing up. I don't remember my parents ever separating us for special one-on-one time. But they always made it very clear that it was okay and good for us to be separate.

We were attached at the hip all the way until college. Then we went to separate colleges and now I live in Australia while she is still in the Midwest. I say not to worry to much about your twins being together all the time OR about being separate. They'll naturally figure that out as they get older. Just encourage them and remind them that it is okay for them to do different things and have different interests.

One suggestion - have them be in different classes in school. My parents insisted that my sister and I have different teachers all during elementary school and that helped a lot. We got to be our own people and have are own friends, but then we still got to go home and be "the twins" and spend all our free time together. That was the best decision my parents ever made, I think.

Sarah said...

I was really worried how my daughter London would react to our newest addition, Sydney. She got really clingy and possessive of me at the end of the pregnancy too. One thing we did in preparing for Sydney was focus the changes on London - so London moved into a new "big girl" bedroom while Sydney took over the old nursery. We also made sure she got some special time to visit in the hospital once Sydney arrived. Syd was born right before Halloween so my husband and I made it a point to take London out trick or treating without Sydney (my mom was still helping out so she stayed home with her). Of course, London acts up here and there, particularly when she is tired and Sydney is getting the attention. And we do make it a point to have one on one time with her at least a few minutes each day whether its getting up and ready for school, snuggling in bed or reading before bed. And while I feared she would hate having a little sister, London loves her more than I could wish for. She even holds Syd's hand in the car if Syd is crying.

anna said...

I have three kids - 6, 5 and 3 and I can tell you that there is nothing better as a parent than seeing your kids becoming best friends. I loved what someone above said that a sibling is the greatest gift you can give them. My ability to love just grew each time and sure, it was an adjustment at the beginning because newborns require some work, but I just always emphasized that that new person was their very best friend. We have a rule in our home now that if one of my kids is having a friend over, they have to let their siblings play with them. Friends will come and go, but you will always have your siblings. Each of my kids has one or two special items, but everything else they share. It makes my day to hear them laugh together or play a game or write a play and act it out. Their friendship fills our family with love. It is such a blessing. We make sure they each feel special, but emphasizing their friendship has had amazing results. My mom invited my middle daughter for a sleepover to give her some extra attention. She started crying because she wanted her brother and sister to come too. We do family hip-hip-hoorays each week. We go around and say three hip-hip-hoorays for Audrey for doing such a great job on her talk at church, etc. Even the kids take turns doing this. It helps each of them feel recognized and it helps them feel excited for one another. We are a team. We tell them that all the time. And who doesn't want to be part of an awesome team?

Toby is so lucky to be getting a sibling. If you talk about what a great thing it is, he will think it is. Tell him that will be his best friend forever. It is such an amazing relationship. They get to share their childhood with someone else. And sometimes, there are just some jokes only a fellow kid could get, right?

l.m said...

My due are barely 21 months apart so my boy was still basically a baby when my girl was born but we did several things in hope of easing the transition. We read many books, my fav is There's Going to be a Baby http://www.amazon.com/Theres-Going-Baby-John-Burningham/dp/0763649074
We also bought a soft baby doll and did a lot of role playing with it. J named it Pepito and would demonstrate how gentle he was going to be with the new baby etc. and once K was born, we let J do a lot of hands on snugging and cuddling (read: near smothering) and we referred to K as our baby or your baby so that he felt a connection with the baby. And he really enjoyed helping with diaper changes and dressing her too.
Good luck!

Green Bag Lady Teresa said...

One of the best things that my mom told me to do when I was pregnant with my second child was to read the book "Siblings Without Rivalry" it really helped. I remembered all the time that I should talk to the baby about the older sibling. Kind of pretend that the older sibling is not around like, "Wow, isn't it great that you have such a wonderful big sister. She is the best big sister I can think of. She is so helpful and wonderful, you are a lucky little baby. " Also to talk that way to your husband saying, "Toby was so helpful today. You should have seen him. He got diapers and wipes for the baby just when I needed them!" Kids love to hear praise that they don't think they are supposed to hear.

I have 3 kids and they all loved having little siblings. I don't know if I was just lucky or the things I did were helpful in this regard.

Watching my kids together when they were little was one of the greatest things about motherhood. You will love it!

Jodi said...

It's a process, that's for sure. I definitely grieved the loss of that one-on-one time with Che and especially in the weeks leading up to Poet's birth I was mindful of his anticipation. It's quite common for the first-born to regress a little, perhaps wet the bed, cry a lot, ask to be fed. I also noticed the lack of attention Che received from strangers once Poet was born - everyone would coo over her and I would look down at Che and he would be patiently waiting for us to move on.

As for preparation....special dates are important and perhaps essential once baby has arrived. Talk to Toby about baking a cake when baby arrives to celebrate his/her birthday and yes, definitely have some new books and craft projects ready for after the birth.

Mostly, don't be too concerned. It will all work out - it always does x

Eden said...

Thank you so much for your comments on being a twin! I am a mom of twin boys aged 18 months and I worry all the time about how being twins will shape their experience. I adore them but I simply can't give them as much one-to-one time as mothers of singletons and I hope that the fact they have each other will make up for that to some degree. But it's hard when they both want affection and to have mommy to themselves at the same time. Joanna, I've been meaning to send you an email to ask if you'd considered writing more about your experiences as a twin. I'd love to know more about it from the child's point of view. Jennifer, thanks for your point about different classes at school! I'll definitely remember that when the time comes.

Sydney said...

The more you act comfortable and at ease with your situation the better it will be for Toby. I have six fantastic children and we were equally as excited for the youngest child as we were for the oldest. The beauty of it is makimg it normal and happy and the children adapt beautifully. The funniest thing is how you can't imagine life without them the minute each child is born into your family. Such an exciting time for all of you, enjoy!! You are truly blessed.

Paula said...

I'm an older sister and don't remember freaking out at all. I think I was too excited about my new little sister to even think of how much time my mother was spending with her and not me. I just wanted to "take care" of the baby, hold her, watch her all the time. In fact the only "traumatic" memmory I have of that time is from the day I met her (she was still in the hospital). I remember being ecstatic and wanting to meet her so bad! But when I got there my mother wouldn't let me hold her in my arms (I was 7, so I kind of understand why now;). I was devastated and didn't say a word to my mom for the rest of the day.

I know I was bigger than Toby, but what I'm trying to say is that maybe he's scared now, but when the baby arrives he will probably flip out and be really into the whole big-brother thing instead of worrying about losing the closeness.

xx

Rivka Miriam said...

I am an older child, by 4 years, so the arrival of my little brother was a bit traumatic. I can remember now painting our back fence with white shoe polish (when my brother was 3 days old) to try and get more attention. I don't think it can ever be perfect - life has to change with a new baby (e.g. being quiet during nap times, baby crying, things like that). But I think parents making an effort to give attention to the older sibling definitely helps.
My mom and dad used to take turns taking me out on my own so I would have special time with both of them. I can still remember my dad taking me out to dinner, to the park and for ice cream, and my mom taking me out for morning teas, book shopping and to the swimming pool. They both made a huge effort to do everything they could to make me feel just as loved - and tried to keep as many rituals and routines from before Adam was born. They also turned me into the big sister - I was responsible for reading Adam a story, or singing him a song - just little things that made me feel more connected to him. Hope these suggestions help - I'm sure you will do an awesome job

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