A pregnancy brings with it a great deal of excitement and anticipation. My boys are six and four, and recently, they have become very interested in the arrival of boy number three, who will be here in September. Since they are a little bit older, they have been full of questions and funny comments about the baby, so I want this to be a fun time for them.
Here are a few ways I’ve found to keep older siblings excited about a new baby:
1. Playing “Guess the Size”
This game has been fun for the whole family. I have the What to Expect app on my phone, and every week it compares the growing baby’s size to a specific fruit or vegetable. The boys love it when Friday rolls around, and they get to place their guess for what the baby has grown into. My husband and I even get in on the action too. Not only is this a great way for the boys to visualize the baby’s development, but we’ve all learned about some new produce. I mean, does anyone else know how to describe a rutabaga?
2. Writing a Book
The English teacher in me loves the idea of having the boys write a book for the new baby. I thought it could be along the lines of “house rules” or a guide for surviving life with our family, complete with pictures the boys drew or photographs we took. But then life happened, and while I’m not willing to completely give up on this idea just yet, finding the time to actually make it happen has been a little difficult.
Luckily, a friend shared The Big Sibling Book: Baby’s First Year According to ME with me. This book is designed with questions and interviews for older siblings to complete before baby’s arrival, as well as lists of milestones and memories the siblings can continue filling out during the first year. It provides the same creativity and personalization as my homemade idea, just with less stress. I have a feeling this will be a treasure we will enjoy looking back on for years to come.
3. Reading a Book
My first son and I read a lot of big brother books while we awaited the arrival of his little brother. It was a great way to talk about our growing family and gave him the chance to ask questions about being a big brother. Our favorites included What Brothers Do Best by Laura Numeroff and The New Baby and Just Me and My Little Brother by Mercer Mayer. Both authors have options for sisters and brothers, but these are just the tip of the iceberg; there are all sorts of big sibling books available. A friend recently recommended The Other Dog by Madeline L’Engle, so we can’t wait to add it to our reading list this summer
Now that my oldest is reading more on his own, he is picking out some of his favorite books to practice reading so that he will be able to read to the baby all by himself. A friend shared this idea, and I love seeing the pride my son takes in his read alouds. Not to be left out, my younger son is starting to practice turning the pages and describing the pictures in his own books. I know it will be helpful for me to have two boys who can entertain their brother, but, even more importantly, I hope reading together will help them bond.
4. Buying a Gift
Buying gifts can work one of two ways. First, older siblings can be given the task of buying a special gift for the new baby. This could be a special lovey or stuffed animal, or they may even have fun helping pick out new baby equipment. I know my boys have been fascinated by some of the gadgets babies need.
I also have a lot of friends who selected a special treat for the baby to give the older siblings. From personal experience, this is a wonderful idea, but it can easily get out of hand if you’re not careful. My mom, being the sweet grandmother she is, was more than willing to buy my oldest a new racetrack when his little brother was born, and I was delighted to have one less thing on my to do list. I pictured something small and simple, easy to transport and clean up. So imagine my surprise when I arrived home from the hospital and saw a ginormous track covering my entire living room floor. I’m telling you, the thing was at least three feet tall! Even though it was a tad bigger than I expected, I have to admit, it did keep my older son happily occupied during feedings.
5. Taking a Walk Down Memory Lane
This has been my favorite activity so far, and it’s so easy to do. Both of my boys wore the same outfit home from the hospital, so we have enjoyed getting it out and talking about the day they came home. Neither one can believe his head was ever small enough to fit in the little hat! We have also snuggled up and looked through their baby pictures. The boys have been full of questions about when they were born and have enjoyed hearing their own stories. Together, they are making plans for what they’ll do when we bring the new baby home.