One To Two, Not So Blue
Posted by Rachel Greene on May 1, 2002 - 12:00:00 PM
LOS ANGELES—Going from one child to two is a monumental change for parents. Now think of it from a child's perspective. The first child has things pretty darn good. All the attention, all the toys, all the affection. My son, Ryan, was just 3 when our second child, Cole, arrived. I knew it was going to be a tough transition for Prince Ryan so I started preparing him way in advance.
Before I was even pregnant with Cole, I'd bring up babies to Ryan. If I saw one at a store or church, I'd say casually, "Look, Ryan, there's a baby. How would you like to have a baby brother or sister around the house?" Some days he'd say he wanted lots of them and other days he'd say none at all.
Once I was pregnant with Cole, we didn't mention anything to Ryan until I started showing (around 5-6 months). One reason for this was that it's hard enough to explain pregnancy to a young child and it helps to have something to "show" him. Also, 9 months is a long time for a kid, shoot, 9 minutes is a long time for him! So, shortening the length of "when is the baby going to come?" was easier for him and me.
The arrival of the baby is a big transition for the older sibling, so I needed to be careful about timing other big changes. For instance, I started potty-training Ryan about 4 months before Cole was due. I decorated the unused bedroom in "big boy" style and moved Ryan in there well in advance, too. Just think of things from your child's perspective and give him plenty of time to adjust to new things. Those transitions went relatively smoothly (you can read my potty training articles for more details on that). It had come time to focus on how the baby would change things.
For the Christmas before Cole, one of Ryan's gifts was a baby doll. I had a heck of a time finding something for a boy or even neutral, most dolls were girls and were dressed in frilly outfits, etc. However, I did manage to find a Baby Dil doll. Baby Dil is from the Rugrats, not that Ryan watched them but at least it was a boy. This particular model is battery-operated and when you put his bottle in his mouth, he sucks, spits it out, burps. Ha. When you push a spot on his tummy, he giggles, cries, says "momma, poopy, etc." and he moves his arms and legs. Pretty cute. I can't say that Ryan really took to the doll, but it at least gave him a more real-life example of a baby since I didn't have any friends or family with babies I could "borrow" for show and tell. Actually, Ryan became more interested in the doll AFTER Cole had arrived. He liked to take care of it, etc. now that he saw me doing that with Cole. And, for a bonus, the doll is now one of Cole's favorite toys.
Jenna Skarzenski / Canyon News
Another thing I did to help Ryan was read books about siblings, babies, etc. "What to Expect When Your Mommy's Having a Baby," by Heidi E. Murkoff was one I'd actually purchased. He wasn't very interested in it, perhaps it'd be better for older children (4 and up), but it does help with explaining questions like "how did the baby get in mommy's tummy?" He much preferred a book called "Please Be Quiet" (by Mary Murphy), which I happened to grab at the library. It was about a young penguin who kept being told to "be quiet" by his mother because of the sleeping baby. It is very cute and gives a little taste of the changes baby brings about. But, the book Ryan liked the best was one I made for him. Shortly before Cole was due, I made a picture book about our family and what was going to happen, etc. Not being the best artist, Ryan giggled at my depictions of everyone, but he also liked the story of how I'd be going to the hospital with dad and Grandma would be taking care of him. I also included how there would be times that I would be tired and the baby would cry, etc., but no matter what we'd all love Ryan just as much as before. I must have read that book to him a dozen times and made sure to have my mom read it to him when I was in the hospital.
I had some other things ready in advance of the labor and delivery as well. I had a gift for Ryan to open when my husband and I were gone, a comfort toy if you will. I was in labor during the day, but didn't officially go to the hospital until Ryan was already in bed (we had told him we'd be leaving that night) so I think it was nice for him to have something from us when he woke up in the morning. Also, in advance, I had glued a picture of Ryan onto some paper and written ______'s Big Brother Ryan in big, colorful letters. We didn't know what we were having so I couldn't fill in the name until after the delivery. Then, when I knew that Ryan would be visiting the hospital, I taped the sign onto Cole's crib so Ryan could feel special. I also had a gift for Ryan to give Cole (a cloth book I had Ryan pick out) and vice versa. Ryan was BIG into "Toy Story" so I'd found some Woody, Buzz, etc. figurines and had those be the gift from Cole. Well, that certainly helped Cole's appeal factor.
Now that Cole is one, everyone has fully adjusted to his being part of the family. Sure, there are times when Ryan exclaims, "I don't want a baby brother! (usually when Cole is after some of Ryan's toys), but those times are balanced with the "I love you, Cole" moments. I think, in general, Ryan is glad to have Cole around, and I'm glad that I made the effort to prepare him.
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