When I was pregnant with my third child, my daughter (2 years old) constantly wanted to be carried. As the pregnancy went on, I was getting more and more concerned that she would not like the new baby and would become jealous since she was used to being “the baby” in the family.
So, I decided to test the water and had a little chat with her. I explained, “when the baby comes out of Mommy’s tummy, Mommy will have to carry the baby everywhere. I won’t be able to carry you and the baby at the same time. You’re a big girl now and you can walk but the baby won’t be able to walk.” She agreed and seemed to understand.
Later that evening, when we were having dinner, she explained to her dad, “Dad, when the baby comes out of Mommy’s tummy, you’ll have to carry the baby so Mommy can carry me.” Well, I guess my little explanation didn’t work as well as I had thought…
Now I was even more concerned that she would dislike her little sibling and we would have problems after the baby arrives. I looked into different strategies to help. There are plenty of good tips out there, mostly things that I had already done for our oldest when our daughter was born.
Ideas like: making sure your toddler still has one on one time with each parent, or getting them to help with the baby, or getting them excited about some fun “big kid” stuff.
These things worked fine for my son, but I was concerned that they just wouldn’t be enough for our strong willed little girl. So here’s what I did: I made the baby hers.
Instead of saying “the baby”, I started saying “our baby” or even “your baby”. I started doing this with my son as well. They started to make a connection, it wasn’t just a baby, or Mommy and Daddy’s baby, it was THEIR baby.
Then they started doing it too. When we talked about different things our baby would do after he was born, they would say “my baby…”, they were getting excited to meet their baby.
We continued this after he was born as well. I don’t think I’ve ever referred to Lincoln as “my” anything in front of the other kids. It’s always “our little guy” or “your brother”. They’ve even started doing it with their friends little siblings. If my daughter can’t remember a baby’s name she refers to them as her friend’s baby.
Every day since her little brother was born, Cam has said something along the lines of “Mom, our baby sure is cute.” At least once. Every. Day.
Sure, if he’s not nursing or on my lap, she tends to climb up to snuggle with me. Honestly, I love that she still does that. When I was pregnant we were getting very concerned that she’d have a hard time adjusting to the new baby, but she’s never once shown any jealousy or anger toward “her baby”.