“If it’s a baby girl, then she will be in mummy’s stomach. But if it’s a baby boy, then he will be in pop’s stomach!” Athena would explain to almost everyone she meets.
She is four years old and we’ve decided to have a second kid to fill up another room in the house. And the challenge is – how do we prepare her for a sibling?
So here are five things we’ve noticed so far that needs to be done. We’ve only come to the fifth month of the pregnancy, so this list might grow as we learn more!
1. Let your child in on the baby as early on as possible
We never hid the fact that mummy was pregnant with a baby in her tummy from Athena. As soon as we found out that the pod had landed, we told her.
Hopefully, by doing so, she will won’t feel left out and is actually involved with her new brother or sister and start to develop that big sister love.
We let her ask as many or as little questions as she wants about the baby or pregnancy. Also, she is encouraged to share her feelings at all times.
2. Always be consistent
My wife and I try our best to be consistent with the how we treat Athena. For example, we don’t change her normal schedule just because mummy is pregnant now.
We still send and pick her up from school normally, organise regular playdates and everything else so she won’t feel like the baby will change things too much.
But we still need to prepare her for change. And we constantly talk and explain to her the small differences that will take place, like mummy having to feed the baby, etc.
3. Reassure her
I will still hug and smother Athena with kisses every single chance I get because she needs to know that I will love her like anything with or without a new baby.
If you know my wife and I, we are always telling Athena we love her on an hourly basis (yeah, we know she’ll start getting annoyed once she grows up a bit more!).
4. Expose her to babies
Athena has a few cousins that are a few years younger than her and we try to get them to hang out together as much as possible so she will feel comfortable with babies.
She has started to realise that small babies are delicate and she needs to take care of then and protect them. It teaches her responsibility too.
5. No blame game
We try to avoid blaming both Athena or the baby in the tummy for anything at all. We don’t want her to feel resentment towards the baby because of anything.
For example, if Athena wants to play but mummy’s stamina is a little bit reduced because of the pregnancy, we just say mummy is tired instead of saying there’s a baby in the tummy.
Or if Athena is rough housing a little bit and accidentally gets too close to mummy’s tummy, say that mummy could get hurt instead of saying it could hurt the baby.
Whatever it is, always remember that building a family and welcoming a new addition is suppose to be all about happiness, love and care. It’s really difficult to go wrong.
Zan Azlee is a multimedia journalist, writer and filmmaker. He specialises in solo-journalism and often reports from conflict zones around the world. He usually succeeds in staying safe and coming home unharmed to his daughter, Athena Azlee, and wife, Jasmine Abu Bakar, by screaming like a little girl whenever he is faced with danger. Follow his exploits at FatBidin.com.
Image Credit: Zan Azlee.