Hartley (3.5) cuddling new baby Stella
My firstborn is 3.5 and I also have an infant. Hartley (3.5) and I are super connected and close. When I was pregnant, I worried endlessly on how our relationship would change once our new baby came.
A new sibling truly rocks the foundation of the whole household and every relationship changes within. I wanted to acknowledge that change, but also keep our relationship intact and sacred, to the best of my ability.
I compiled a short list of what helped Hartley adjust to being a new sibling and brainstormed ways to help her feel included. These worked wonders for us!
1. I offered for Hartley to be involved in my pregnancy. I offered her to come to some of my prenatal appointments, I had her help me pick out maternity dresses (she loves fashion!) and let her pick out new infant clothing for the baby. We also organized all of her old clothing in the new baby’s room. I think that she was so excited to share and be a big sister because I involved her in the process. I also took what she loved, and applied it to the new baby (fashion, helping to organize and help) so that she could feel a part of the change. She would often sing to my belly and decorate it with stickers! [Here is a pic of me right after delivery with stickers.💁🏼♀️]
2. I gave Hartley the CHOICE to help, always. So often when I was pregnant well-meaning folks would say “oh! Perfect! You’ll have a little helper!” While this is a sweet notion, I often wondered internally, while nodding and smiling, if having a child help would be developmentally appropriate, given normal jealous feelings that come with a new sibling and the huge adjustment in general.
I decided to always ask “Hartley, would you like a job?”, before requesting her to help me. To my surprise, she almost always said “yes!”, and was so proud to bring me a diaper or fresh outfit. However, I did get the occasional “I am not available right now, Mimi”, so be prepared for that🤣!
3. Busy basket. I had collected a few of Hartley’s favorite items about a week before I went into labor. I put these items in a basket for her and put it on top of the fridge. It was so useful to have new toys, games and books to pull down for her when I was nursing Stella for the zillionth time and Hartley was losing her patience. I put kinetic sand, stickers, Brainquest flip cards, ‘Pinkalicious Pinkadoodles’ and rotated books in there. Plus, it made her feel special to have something of her own.
4. Mimi/Hartley dates. Every Sunday, Hartley chooses what to do for our special time. She almost always chooses to go to Wegmans, our local grocery store, for our date. I find it so sweet that she simply wishes to do something familiar from our previous routine as our date! Children really are such simplistic creatures if we give them space to be!❤️
I would love to hear from other mama-llamas on how they helped their firstborn cope with the birth of a new sibling!