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You’re Going to Be a Big Brother

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One of the most perplexing things about being pregnant with baby #3, has been how to prepare or introduce the new baby to Ezra. I know that siblings have been introduced into families since the beginning of time, and I should not over think it. It is just a difficult transition in my mind when he has been the “baby” for the last 2 years. My older son was 11 when he learned he was going to be a big brother, so logic was in place and the preparations were easy.

My 2-year old seems to have a vague concept of there being a baby in my tummy. He attends prenatal appointments, hears baby Mira’s heartbeat, and has seen her on the “TV” screen during our ultrasound scans.  But, does he really “get it”? Probably not, is my opinion.

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How have we been preparing?

Reading + Repetition

I ran across a beautifully illustrated book, Mama’s Belly by Kate Hosford which we have been reading frequently. Over the months since we have introduced the book, he seems to make the connection that his mama’s belly is “rising up like a wave”. He will now point to my breasts or belly when asked where his baby sister is.

I do not buy multiple books about the same subject, I tend to find one we love and read over and over. I have heard many times that we tend to learn by shock or repetition, so for a toddler, repetition seems to work well.

Attending appointments

As I mentioned above, Ezra has attended most of our OB appointments. Our doctor is great about talking directly to Ezra and showing him the doppler and explaining it is the new baby. Again, I am not sure he “gets it”, but the repetition and expansion of my tummy may be helping him grasp the concept. Also, the familiarity of seeing the doctor and the office may make my hospital stay less of a shock.

Videos

We are not big proponents of tv time with Ezra. When we do allow screen time, we try to keep his exposure to “quieter” cartoons like Little Bear. However, Daniel Tiger Season 5 deals with Daniel becoming a big brother. We have watched these episodes multiple times as a teaching tool.

Visiting Other Babies

Luckily, we are in an environment where we have many friends and acquaintances who have new babies. We have been exposing him during story times, play dates, and even when we are walking in the store we will point out the new babies and explain that he will have a new baby soon.

Preparing the House

As we have set up the room (which he will be sharing eventually), we have explained who the new items are for. Her clothes are in the drawers and closets, so he sees them often and we have even installed her car seat to establish the new seating routine in our van.

We have also introduced more stuffed animals into his life, and he is bonding with them. With the animals, we reinforce “gentle touches” animals so that he can make a similar connection with the new baby.

 

 

There are many blogs and articles with tips and tricks to introduce a toddler to a new baby. We are doing these small steps to include our toddler in the process. Ultimately, we will allow it to unfold naturally and deal with the transition as it comes. Our childcare comes a few days before our scheduled birth-day, so that will be another aspect we will talk up and make exciting! A sleepover with bestemor and big brother! How have you introduced a new sibling? Any tried and true tips?

 

 

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From Boobs to Books

I mentioned in a previous post that I was in the process of weaning my toddler. I am happy to report that we have had success! The weaning process took a bit longer than I anticipated, however our second goal date was achieved!

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It’s All About Distraction

This has been a gentle process, and I am so happy that the toddler mind is maleable. With our son, changing his routine and keeping him busy has been the key. Daddy has taken over many roles, this worked out well with our timing and the Christmas holiday. Now that daddy is back to work, I am working to keep him distracted.

Our morning routine is pretty strict. Ezra naps between 10:30 and 11 each day, so I schedule our morning chores in that early morning window. We are home by naptime and he is so sleepy, he just tells me bye and falls right to sleep in his crib without nursing.

Bedtime has even been an easy transition, although the last to go. It has been a similar process. Dinner, bath, and then we move away from our typical nursing spot (my bed) and on to the sofa. We pick several books and have storytime before bed. I will read one and daddy reads another. Then we say our goodnights to one another and to random objects in the house. He goes to his bed, rolls over and falls asleep without a fuss.

 

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Read to Me, Mama

I have placed piles of books in our typical nursing spots. Ezra loves board books with silly rhymes or recognizable pictures. For several days, each time I would sit down, he would collapse in my lap and sign milk.

Instead of obliging, I would pick up one of his favorite books and start reading.  After a few sentences he would quickly forget about the milk and become absorbed in the book. After 3 days of this, asking for milk is no more. Now he brings the book to me and will cuddle on my lap for reading time.

Nurturing our Emotions

The nursing relationship is a special one. It is bittersweet to move on from this phase of parenting, and both Ezra and I still need to have moments of bonding that would resemble our nursing moments.

I wake up ready to nurse him in the mornings, even though I know it is over.  Ezra is not cuddly for long stretches of time, however I savor those moments when he nestles his head into my shoulder for some extra mama reassurance.

It has taken diligence and discipline on my part. Breaking my habit of giving in each time he asked or whined for milk and being firm has helped define the boundary. Toddlers need boundaries and guidance to what is allowed and what is not. Once the boundary was defined, the whining stopped.

My deepest fear was losing the connection that Ezra and I shared. Breastfeeding is more than just nutrition. It is a hormonal bond, the release of oxytocin– the “love” hormone. I did have to grieve for a brief moment.

Parenting is a series of phases, and accepting that this phase needed to be over for my comfort and sanity before the birth of our next baby was crucial. After accepting it, and allowing my little bird to grow his wings so he can move on to his next phase has been quite a journey. For Ezra, he is using this time to develop his language skills and show us what he has been trying to say!