One of my greatest fears when pregnant with Nolan was that Annabelle would have a very hard time adjusting and resent me. I wanted her to have a strong bond with her brother, but I knew it was going to be a tough adjustment. She had been our full focus for the past 19 months and now had to share our attention.
In the past 6 months, Annabelle has had nothing but love for her brother. She never hated us (though sometimes she had some frustration), and only shared her love with her brother. She knew when I had to feed Nolan, and after the first few weeks, she didn’t get upset when it was time for me to feed him. She still wanted my attention, and I was glad to give it when I could, but thankfully the adjustment was worse in my head than in real life. BUT don’t think it was all rainbows and butterflies. She is two, after all, and has tantrums. She wants time with just mommy and daddy. She doesn’t want to share her toys. She gets mad when he pulls her hair. Even with all that, she loves her brother.
We did do numerous things to help Annabelle adjust to being a sister and not having our full attention. I wanted to share these to help any new mamas out there who may be expecting another little one.
How to Help the Older Child Adjust to a Sibling
1. We talked a lot about the baby in mommy’s belly. We read many stories and told her how she could help us. She felt him kick, she talked to him, and kept playing with her baby and we talked about how I would be doing those things with her brother.
2. I bought a few new toys to occupy her time. She still wanted me but these new toys helped to occupy her when we brought Nolan home.
3. When time was with just her, it was with just her. If Nolan was napping, I did whatever she wanted. I made sure she knew she had my attention and knew how important she was to me.
4. I kept routines the same. She woke up at the same time, drank milk and cuddled with mommy, had meals at the same time, and had the same bedtime routine. I will say bedtime routine was a bit challenging. She only wanted me (and still gets mad sometimes when I don’t do it), which couldn’t always happen when I was feeding Nolan. She was okay with it after a few tears, but that was a hard part on me.
5. I shared how much I love her, how important she was to me, and how great she was with her brother. Yes there were times she wasn’t a huge fan of him, but I never let her remember those times. I focused on the good times. I still focus on those and remind her she’s such a great big sister when she brings him his binky when he’s crying. Or when she pats him and says “It’s okay, Nolan,” I tell her that was such a nice thing to say. I definitely say when she shouldn’t do things, but I talk up her great moments.
6. Had mommy or daddy dates. There were many times where just one of us would take her out. We’d go to the play area at the mall, or the library, or the store. We’d do all the fun things when it was just us and no brother. I think this is the most important. Instead of always having to bring him and knowing we were on a time crunch, we’d be free and do what she wanted. She loves the special time when it’s just her and mommy or daddy. We also planned a fun race to do just with her and she loved it! It’s important to make sure we didn’t forget about her and that her brother doesn’t always have to be with us. Nolan doesn’t remember a time without her, but I do think she remembers those days.
There you have it! Nothing crazy, but I really think these things helped her to adjust easily to adding baby boy to our family.