We've been introducing the idea to Baobao that she was going to have a new sibling for a little while, but as Xiaobao is nearly due, preparations have recently stepped up a gear. Here are some of the things we have been doing with Baobao.
Reading Stories about a New Baby
What's in Your Tummy Mummy? - This was the first baby book we got for Baobao. Baobao asks us to read it daily and it has just enough humour that us grown ups don't get bored reading it. We have been sharing this book with Baobao since August and referring to the baby with the different stages. We're definitely at dinosaur now.
Waiting for Baby My New Baby - These two books are part of the New Baby series. Each one features questions that a toddler may ask at different stages. These two books cover the waiting for baby to arrive and life with a newborn. Baobao asked me to read them to her over and over as soon as they arrived and I've found them really helpful to explain to her what is happening.
Exposing Her to Younger Children
Recently, Baobao has become very interested in young babies. One of our friends has recently had a baby and Baobao has really enjoyed meeting him. When we're out and about, she's also very quick to point out other children. When they're newborns, I always say to her that it's a new baby.
We have also spent a lot of time listening. When we hear a baby crying when out, we'll talk about why baby might be crying and what they might want. Baobao usually says cuddles, but we've introduced the idea that they might be hungry and want milk, or their nappy changing here too.
Making Her Feel a Part of Things
Baobao has attended all of my antenatal appointments. She always comes over to listen to Xiaobao's heartbeat and charms the midwives. She has even come to bloodtests. This has reflected in her play. When she was ill with chicken pox in November, we gave her a doctor's bag. Since then, she has used the items in the bag the same way she has seen the midwife use them. She especially enjoys listening to baby with the stethoscope.
Now that we have set up Xiaobao's movement and sleep areas, we've started to establish ownership of those area with Baobao. We try to do this in as gentle a way as possible.
For Xiaobao's movement area, I have been showing Baobao that she has lots of areas to play, but when Xiaobao comes they won't be able to move around the room on their own. So when Xiaobao comes, they'll only play on the matt and using the mobile/images/mirror. All of today, Baobao has been saying "Baby come. Baby play matt. Baby play this!" so I think it is beginning to sink in.
For the sleep area, we have set up Baobao's old cot as a sidecar in our room. Baobao's current sleep routine is that she starts out in her room and then when she wakes up she comes to our bed, or in her words "Wake up morning, mama baba room. Sleep mama baba bed". When she built the bed with Baba yesterday, we made it very clear that it was the bed for the new baby, but that Baobao could still come to our bed when she wakes up. We don't want to change something that she still very clearly needs.
Gifts for Baobao from Xiaobao
The last thing we have done is arrange some gifts for Baobao from Xiaobao. These are all items that Baobao can use in pretend play when looking after her own baby. This includes a bag with a coconut oil container, a bottle and a flannel, a blanket and a sling.