On convincing Charlotte that babies aren’t really that bad, I promise.
August 08, 2012

Now that we are in the final trimester of this pregnancy, Donald and I have begun preparing Charlotte for the arrival of her infant sibling.

It is…not going well.

There are aspects of this process that Charlotte understands well and is fully prepared for.  She is well-versed in the biology, for example.  We have been very frank with her about male and female genitalia, the purposes and mechanisms of sex, how conception occurs, the myriad of ways in which the female body changes to accommodate gestation, the role of hormones, the function of the placenta, and the process of birth.  I found a short birth video online that we watched together so that she could see how the woman handled the sensations related to delivery and how the baby exited the birth canal, which we have compared frequently to the birth processes of other animals.

It’s the actual BABY she’s not on board with.

The first problem we seem to be having is that because Charlotte is exposed to many more nursing toddlers and older children than she is to infants, she is exceedingly resistant to the idea of sharing my milk with the baby.  It is HER milk, she tells me.  Momma’s milk is for BIG KIDS, she says.

She will keep Momma’s milk for herself and will feed the baby her green beans, she offers.  Green beans.  AKA THE ONLY VEGETABLE CHARLOTTE DETESTS.

This also applies for other aspects of her life.  Charlotte is disinterested in allowing the baby to sleep with us because this is something she believes big kids do.  She does not think I should be allowed to carry the baby because big kids need to be carried when their legs hurt.  You get the idea!

The second problem is that Charlotte is MUCH more excited about our adoption.  We received word that our adoption agency will allow us to consider accepting a placement several months earlier than anticipated, so there have been many enthusiastic conversations about foster-adoption lately which could account for some of this.  But the bulk of Charlotte’s interest in adoption seems to stem from the understanding that we will be adopting a toddler – or, in Charlotte-glish, a child old enough to play with IMMEDIATELY.

Maybe, she tells me, we can just adopt?  We won’t need a baby then because she’ll have a friend to play with!  Or maybe we can just give the baby to someone else, someone who likes babies?  That would be nice.  Does that sound like a plan?

Sigh.  Any advice on how to handle this will be highly appreciated.

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  1. By Christine J on August 08, 2012

    Oh man, I don’t even know!  My son is 5 and we had hs sister 6 months ago and he has taken to her like a champ.  Do you think maybe getting her her own baby to care for while you are with baby might help her understand and not be so jealous? 

    I am sure you will get some awesome advice! Congrats on it all, I know it’s been a tough road.

  2. By on August 08, 2012

    Get her a doll, and all that goes with that doll, stroller, carrier, okay diapers the works. While your doing what needs to be done with the new baby, she can take of hers. You can start now. Hold the doll, and show her there is still room for her. We did this with Arianna, since she was to young to understand and once makenna was born, there was almost no issue, she was used to seeing me with a baby. She will be jealous. But start now, get everything she will need to care for her own baby. She will be ok. Ari was a mess for a few weeks. But nothing out of control. Don’t forget mine are only 13 months apart.

    But yeah, get a doll to start showing her It’s ok.  She needs the visual.

  3. By on August 08, 2012

    Eh, no kids like babies, or sharing mom & dad.  They get over it, they have no choice : )

  4. By on August 08, 2012

    Hi Sarah,
    I have a son who will be 3 October 1st and a 6 month old daughter. I was very concerned my son, Gus, would be terribly jealous of his sister, Cate, because he had always been the center of our world and is very much a ‘daddy’s boy.‘ I just talked to him daily throughout the pregnancy about how important big brothers are and that he would have so much to teach his new sister. I also explained that it’s important for big kids to help take care of little kids bc they can’t always take care of themselves yet, etc. well, he took to his sister incredibly well. He absolutely adores her….he calls her “my Catie-pie.“ I constantly encourage him to help me with her and ask him to ‘teach’ her things or ‘read’ stories to her, and he relishes his role as big brother. Maybe if you really encourage her to help you prepare for your new baby and talk to her about all the fun things she loves to do that she can teach her new sibling, it will help her to take ownership of her new sib. We wrote letters to my daughter while she was in utero as well….Hus would dictate to me that he wants to share his cars, but maybe not his lightening McQueen, and he can’t wait to go in the swings with her, etc. and did you know we have chickens and 2 dogs in our house?! (it was pretty cute to hear what he felt was so important for the baby to know) and then he’d decorate the letters and we put them away for her. You are an amazing momma and whatever your gut says, I’m sure will be the right call. But good luck anyway. :)

  5. By Molly on August 08, 2012

    Mine are only 18.5 months apart, so I couldn’t really “prepare” my sweetheart before the birth of her brother. Only with books and such.
    One thing that did happen though that was VERY positive was sharing breastmilk. I don’t know about your milk, but mine all but diminished during pregnancy. Then, all the sudden when he was born there was yummy newborn milk and LOTS of it. She was in heaven.
    So…maybe that will help?!

  6. By Haley @ Carrots for Michaelmas on August 08, 2012

    I just wrote about how we prepared our toddler for his little sister last month: http://carrotsformichaelmas.com/2012/07/02/10-ways-to-prepare-your-toddler-for-a-new-baby/

    There’s some good advice in the comments, too! I hope it’s helpful to sweet Charlotte :)

  7. By on August 08, 2012

    I agree with the doll idea but since books are such a huge part of your lives, I think you should look into getting some about being a big brother or big sister to a new baby. I liked The New Baby by Mercer Mayer. The New Baby at Your House by Joanna Cole has pictures of real kids and real babies.

    Focus on how she will be helping the baby by sharing her milk, her bed and letting Mommy carry the baby.

  8. By Cambria on August 08, 2012

    Hadley was much younger when I had Hayden (as you know) and I worried so about the transition. And it wasn’t as bad as I made it out to be…

    But, I think if I were in your shoes I would try to get Charlotte to help you with baby. Give her tasks as they pertain to baby that she can own. Then she could see she plays an important role in baby’s life And I’m wondering if you approached the breast milk thing like “baby needs milk too to get big like you” after she has her tasks she’d be more open to sharing.

    I had stopped nursing Hadley a couple of months before delivering Hayden, but gave her some pumped milk. She refused the milk I pumped after delivering - apparently it tastes different? I don’t know.

    Every kid is different, but what I do know is that it will all work out :)

    You’re getting close! Congratulations!

  9. By Phase Three of Life on August 08, 2012

    I have zero experience with this (I just have one child myself), but I wonder if you could really focus on the things Charlotte will be able to do as a “big kid” that will be such a huge help to you and the baby. How she will be able to help rock the baby when the baby is sleepy or upset because she’s a big kid. How she will be able to help the baby get dressed because big kids can dress themselves by babies can’t, and you’re really going to need her help with this. Things like that. She seems to crave a definition for how she is different and can do different things than the baby can. Also, toddlers loooove to help, and she is an especially caring little kiddo, so I bet she will be really good with a younger sibling.

  10. By on August 08, 2012

    We got our 2 year-old a baby doll and talked about all the fun things she got to do when the baby came.  We read lots of books.  Our library had a book bag with a bunch of preparing for baby books for toddlers to check out. 

    Once baby was here dad took full responsibility of the big girl when he was home and she was awake.  He gave her all the attention he could and then some. r

    I would say things to the baby like, I will be there in just a minute I am helping sister do _____.  That way she knew she was still important.  I also gave her as much attention as I could.  I had a friend that said she just took care of the older children no matter what and the baby survived, but I didn’t feel comfortable with that. 

    All that said she still flipped out for about a month before the baby came and after.  I got more sleep caring for the newborn than my husband did with the 2 year-old.  She totally reverted back to diapers and was a little extra emotional.  Then she leveled out.  During all that and since she has been better with her sister (sister is one now) than I could have ever imagined.  She is kind, caring, playful, respectful, etc (she does occasionally run her over with a toy, but that is to be expected). 

    So prepare, but be prepared for anything.  You guys are going to do great with all those babies!

  11. By Megan on August 08, 2012

    I haven’t had to face this yet, since I still only have one, but this is what I would do…
    I would get her a doll and start showing her how to take care of a baby.  Maybe that would spark her interest. Showing her how to nurse the baby, change the baby, hold the baby, etc.
    Also, do you have any friends with infants that she could see the baby and she they aren’t so bad?

  12. By Ashley on August 08, 2012

    I only have one baby, and I don’t remember how my parents readied me for siblings because I was too young, so no advice here. Just my usual adoration of Charlotte because she is so adorable, even when she’s giving you hell ;p

  13. By on August 08, 2012

    One thing we did was get our son (2.5 at the time his sister was born) a gift FROM the new baby.  As soon as he came to the hospital to see his new sister, we gave him his present to open (a book).  He LOVED it and it made that fraction of the day all about him; from that moment he was smitten with his little sister.  Although he has told me a couple times in the last year (the baby is 14 months now) to take her back to the hospital :P

  14. By Alicia S. on August 09, 2012

    Dude! I bet she’s going to do a total 180 on you once the baby actually arrives. I’m calling it. She’s going to love that thing like there is no tomorrow. 

    These things are all so normal. She’s just vocal about how she feels, which is probably already helping her to cope on some level. Everything she’s saying stems from only knowing what it’s like for things to be the way that they are. Babies needing milk isn’t ‘normal’ to her now, but after a week of having a baby in the house, it will be. It certainly won’t hurt to read books and talk to other kids who have siblings and love on a new babydoll, but in my honest opinion, none of that is necessary. I think those things did more for me than they did for Matthew when I was pregnant. From what you’ve told us about Charlotte, I don’t think that this is likely at all to be a rough adjustment for her. I think she’ll love the experience, and growing from it will just be a happy by-product of it.

    (That being said, I also did what Tiffany did. Saying to the baby, “I’ll be right there pumpkin, Mommy’s helping Matthew ______ right now,“ felt like it helped to make him feel important.) Good luck!

  15. By Sara on August 09, 2012

    Hi Sara - I agree with most of the commenters, and I did many of these things when preparing Maggie for Alicia. The first few weeks were rough because Maggie wanted extra cuddles (so, when the baby was sleeping, I would wear Maggie, or we would snuggle in bed with a stack of books. I also did this when I was nursing (the reading outloud to Maggie). I also prepared a special box - a Maggie box we called it for certain times of the day when I needed to focus only on Alicia. Maggie LOVED it. I rotated the stuff in the box a few times a month, and she only got that for the times I needed to nurse Ali. And slowly after time she stopped needing it. I would just talk up how much fun having a baby is, how much he/she will look up to Char, etc. And now, at six months both girls interact together nicely and are starting to play together. It’s super sweet!! I can’t wait to hear how everything goes - enjoy your final trimester.

  16. By on August 09, 2012

    I’m right there with you. My son turned 3 this pastbtuesday and I am 35 weeks. He keeps saying the baby doesn’t get to sleep with us because that’s where he sleeps. He doesn’t want to share his trucks or books or toys. He doesn’t want the baby to use anything that was his when he was little. We just had professional pictures taken because he insisted we don’t want pictures of the baby.

    We are going to a sibling class this sunday with him and are hoping we will get some ideas of how to deal with this, although I believe now it’s just part of how this all goes. We did buy him something little he’s been obsessed with to give him at the hospital when the baby is born….from the baby. And he has picked out a small gift for the baby as well…but he still doesn’t like the idea that this baby is coming to our house.

  17. By on August 15, 2012

    Do you have to stop nursing before baby comes to “reset” the milk? I know infant milk is different than toddler milk… Does it just happen naturally? I have no idea. Isla nursed until 15 months, I was done after that and she didn’t care very much at all.

    I honestly didn’t know how to handle Isla’s transition into Big Sisterhood, so we were less prepared when Jenson was born than you are at this stage. Books about how awesome being a big sister is really helped a lot, I changed the words “big sister” and the like to Isla when I read to her, and the “baby” words to Jenson so she could identify with the book.

    I heard about that doll business too. Luke feels uncomfortable with Isla having life-like dolls and she always ignored the play dolls that people gave her, so we knew she wouldn’t care about having a real doll. She has her favourite cuddly, Luvy, and we used him as her baby. She nursed Luvy, I found a little basket and gave her a swaddling blanket so Luvy could sleep and I gave her some of the cloth diapers (pocket diapers without the inserts) and cloth wipes and she went to town.

    I included her in the baby chores too, asking her to get me a diaper for Jenson or to help me sing a song to him at bedtime.

    Maybe show Charlotte photos of herself as an infant nursing and being worn and sleeping in the family bed.

  18. By on August 22, 2012

    I wholeheartedly second Cynthia’s idea about the photos! My son was 23 months old when our second child was born, and we gave him a little photo album filled with (strategically chosen) pictures from his babyhood. He was obsessed with it for the last month of my pregnancy and the first month after the birth: we looked through it every night at bedtime for about 30 min, totally driven by him, and we would catch him studying it by himself during the day. It seemed like it gave him tremendous affirmation that he, too, had been loved and cared for like the baby would be/was. Going through it together was also a great way to talk about or do “spin doctoring” about sensitive areas.





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