We are in the final stretch of my pregnancy at 32 weeks and Freddie’s excitement has hit overdrive – not a day goes by that he doesn’t ask me ‘is the baby coming out yet’. At almost 2 and half he’s grasped the concept of a baby in Mammy’s tummy wonderfully; he chats to the baby, strokes my bump and always includes ‘The Baby’ in his family role play games.
We didn’t tell Freddie we were pregnant until my 20 weeks scan – it was a conscious decision by both Neil and I that we didn’t want to tell him too soon. I also wanted to have the scan picture to show him so he could see what was growing in Mammy’s tummy. I framed his 20 weeks scan and it is now in his bedroom; so we compared the two so he knew that he was once tiny and in mammy’s tummy too.
We’ve tried to prepare him as best we can for having a sibling – we want to make the transition as easy as we can for him – I know that we’ll hit a few bumps along the way when he doesn’t have our undivided attention at all times; but these things are unavoidable when toddlers are involved!
Here are a few things we’ve been doing to try and prepare Freddie to be a Big Brother;
- As recommended by Laura we bought him a lovely little book called Snuggle the Baby. It’s beautifully illustrated and includes a pop out bottle, blanket and other features to explain the needs of a new baby. Freddie’s favourite part of the book is the pop out bottle – he works his way through all of the pictures of the babies in the book and pretends to the feed them all. He then asks me if he can feed the baby when ‘it comes out’.
- We’ve invested in a couple of items which we think can accommodate both the baby and Freddie. I bought a lovely playmat from Daisies and Dinosaurs which is large enough for Freddie to lie on next to the new baby. When it arrived I told him it was for the new baby and that he could share it too if he wanted – he was thrilled at the idea that he could lie next to the baby.
- We’ve been talking about the baby’s bedroom for some time, it’s next to Freddie’s and we’ve been slowly collecting new things to put in the nursery. Whenever we get something new I always ask Freddie if he thinks the baby will like it – we try to involve him in decision making when it comes to the new baby as it’s his baby as much as ours.
- I took Freddie along to one of my midwife appointments so that he knew why Mammy was ‘going to the doctors’ more often. My midwife was brilliant and kept referring to the baby as ‘Your Baby’ when she was talking to Freddie. We listened to the baby’s heart beat which Freddie was mesmerised by and Freddie got a sticker at the end of the appointment for being a good boy while Mammy was being checked over. I also took him along when I got my Whooping Cough jab – the nurse referred to it as medicine for the baby which Freddie repeated back to her about 100 times! Then the stickers came out again to reward Freddie for being good while he was there.
- Freddie’s cousin is exactly 1 year younger than him and we still refer to her as a baby at 18months old. Playing with her and being encouraged to be gentle around her will hopefully help when our baby arrives. We are working on the concept of sharing too which is fun and games to say the least! We are also lucky enough to have a lot of friends with children of different ages – including small babies. My partner in crime Laura had her second baby in March and initially Freddie didn’t show a great deal of interest. However the more he has seen him, the more he becomes intrigued and wants to be around him – now he always asks if ‘Baby Abe’ is coming along if Laura is popping to our house.
- We’ve found ourselves talking about Freddie when he was a tiny baby a lot more in recent months and he’s really enjoyed hearing about what he was like as baby. He loves to look at photos and videos of himself when he was tiny. We’ve tried to explain that the baby won’t be able to walk or talk yet and that he can show the baby how to do those things if he wants to. We’ve also made sure he knows that the baby will cry – but rather than talking about it in a negative way we’ve asked Freddie what he thinks we should do when the baby does cry – he has 3 text book responses;
‘Give the baby some milk’
‘Change the baby’s nappy’
‘Give the baby a cuddle’ (my heart melts when he says that!!)
- We are planning on getting Freddie a little gift from the baby when it’s born – we’re thinking of getting him a little doctor’s kit as he loves to role play and I’m sure he’ll want to check the baby and mammy over to make sure we are ok to come home after being in hospital. I also think a little pushchair would be a nice idea too…..as long as he doesn’t try and put the baby in it!
Finally – I’m trying to soak up as much time as I can with him before the baby arrives. Although I’m excited for the next chapter in our family’s life and I can’t wait to meet our new addition; I am conscious that my attention will be divided between my 2 children and that ‘Mammy and Freddie’ time will be a lot less than it is now. Freddie is the light of my life and I always refer to him as Mammy’s little Star…..but that just makes me excited to think our lives are set to become even brighter when our new addition finally arrives.
Let the countdown continue and bring on baby number 2!