Our daughter Amaani was about 17 months when we got pregnant again. It was as if she sensed something was changing because about two months into the pregnancy, she became very clingy and started acting out.
A nurse told me mammals can sense when there is a baby in mommy’s tummy and don’t be surprised by the sudden change in behavior.
I took Amaani to my ultrasounds and doctor visits. At first, she wanted nothing to do with it. She would tell me there’s baby on the “TV” but toss the ultrasound picture. She didn’t want to talk about it with grandparents either.
But her attitude toward the pregnancy completely changed when we put together a Pregnancy Announcement / Gender Reveal video and made her the star of it. Suddenly, she was so excited that she was going to be a big sister.
I realized afterwards that up until then, we were talking about “baby” coming but she didn’t understand what that would mean for HER. When she learned she was going to be a big sister and one day, she could take baby brother to the beach and make sand castles with him, she was so excited about what was happening. Making the video excited her and for us, it was a way to celebrate our “second baby.”
Some other things that really helped-
BOOKS – We read her books like “I am a Big Sister” to prepare her for what was going to happen. These books really helped, especially in preparing her for the hospital trip mommy and daddy would be making. She knew that when the time came, she would be having a sleepover at her friend’s house. The books also helped show her what she could do when baby came, like throw away dirty diapers!
BABY CHICKENS – I bought some eggs from Toys R Us that you put into a jar of water. I had Amaani watch this jar and how the egg changed over 7 days. She watched as the egg gradually hatched and a baby chicken came out by the end of the week. Seeing this process taught her that the baby chicken doesn’t come out quickly, it takes time.
ENGAGING WITH BABY– I encouraged her to talk to baby. I told her baby brother could hear everything she was saying. She loved to kiss my tummy to send kisses to her baby.
GIFTS FROM BABY– We bought her this toddler kitchen set which she absolutely LOVED and told her it was from her brother. When we came home from the hospital, we also brought gifts ‘from brother’ at that time. She loved the gifts from her baby brother and it helped them get started on the right foot.
OTHER TODDLERS WITH SIBLINGS – Anytime one of our friends had their second baby, we would excitedly point out to Amaani that her friend had now become a “big brother” or “big sister.” She knew her turn was coming soon!