Friday, 23 January 2015

Bump & Toddler Bonding

Throughout this pregnancy, I've been very conscious of making sure that Tyne feels involved and part of the process as well as trying my best to help him to understand what's happening.

He's not even 2 yet, so it's quite a young age to become a big brother and I wasn't too sure if it was something he'd really be able to grasp until the baby actually arrives but regardless I thought it was important to do whatever I could to help him to understand.

Not only did I want him to understand that a new baby is coming to live with us, but I wanted him to have a bit of an understanding of what's happening to me too - why my body looks different and why I've been frequently throwing up too - it must be a bit frightening for a child to watch after all!

The first thing I did when I found out I was expecting was to go online and look up some recommended reading for toddlers around the subject of becoming an older sibling and the process of Mummy having a baby - I decided on the following:

There's A House Inside My Mummy by Giles Andrea - This is definitely both my favourite book for teaching Tyne all about what happens to me during pregnancy and that a baby is coming, and also Tyne's favourite to look at too.

The story is told in rhyme - which at this age is something Tyne particularly enjoys in books, I think it helps him to stay focused - and is told from the perspective of a little boy whose mummy is pregnant. He talks about his mummy growing a new baby in her special "tummy house", what it must feel like for Mummy and why it sometimes makes her feel poorly, and at the end the new baby arrives.

The illustrations are very sweet and Tyne often refers to parts from this book when we chat about the baby, so I know it's definitely helped him to understand.

What's In Your Tummy Mummy by Sam Lloyd - This is much more of a "funny" approach to the topic, but Tyne really loves the pop-up element! I wouldn't say it teaches a whole lot about anything worth while, but it is a fun little book and it gets the point across - my tummy is growing because there's a baby inside!

Waiting For Baby by Rachel Fuller - This feels like quite an "old school" book but it does the job well - it explores the emotions around the impending arrival of a new baby and creates some good opportunities for discussing it all with your toddler, particularly how they might be feeling about it.

Tyne & I read through these books together a few times a week, and afterwards we talk about the similarities between what happens in the book and what is happening to me.

From early on in the pregnancy, I have referred to the baby in my tummy and encouraged Tyne to feel the movements and to talk to the baby - he loves doing this, and now often comes up to me of his own accord, pulls my top up and waves "Hello" to baby - he has a little chat and likes to "show" the baby his toys and pictures that he draws.

As soon as we had settled on a name for the baby, we told Tyne what it was and he now refers to the baby by name almost all of the time - this is something I feel will really help him to understand that the new baby is the same baby who was inside the bump when he arrives!

We also already include the baby by name in any discussions we have about us as a family, so that Tyne understands that there are 4 of us. He says goodnight to the baby each evening and likes to "cuddle" him through the bump, too.

I'm quite lucky in that our hospital allows children to be present at the ultrasounds, and so have taken Tyne along to all of them - we pointed out the baby on the screen and he completely understood - pointing and saying "Ahhh baby" - we also regularly show him the scan photos and ask him about who is in the picture, this creates a good opportunity to chat about the baby and what will happen when he arrives.

Over the coming months, I plan to involve Tyne in preparing the new babys bedroom and using this as an opportunity to chat about how soon he'll be arriving - I plan on taking Tyne with me to buy things for the baby and letting him help us to choose things, as well as letting him put aside some baby toys to put in to the babies room ready for his arrival.

I've also been browsing some new books about becoming a big brother and bringing the baby home from the hospital to start preparing Tyne for that next important stage!

How did you prepare your child for the arrival of a new sibling? I'd love to hear from you!

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