motherhood, parenting, siblings

On impending siblinghood

I thought the concept of a baby in mama’s belly would be a strange one for my son but since I first told him many months ago he seemed completely nonplussed. I guess he believes in Elmo who lives in his television so why not a baby who lives inside my belly? He loved kissing my belly each morning and patting it cheerfully saying hi baby! love you! He told friends and family who came by that mama now had two babies and one of the babies was inside mama belly! While we knew he’d have more complex feelings once the baby was actually here, we felt relieved at how well he was handling this so far.

Enter baby Liam.

The other day our friends came over for a playdate for their two-year-old and ours. They also brought along their three month old baby boy Liam. The two toddlers took to each other instantly, racing cars, and exploring the house side-by-side giggling and whispering each step of the way. And me? I was in bliss holding a cute little twelve pound ball of cuteness and wondering how on earth my own son could ever have been quite this small. At one point Waleed raced past me and I motioned him over. See this baby? I asked him, showing him the sleeping child in my arms. I pressed a hand to my stomach. Mama is going to have a baby like that for you to play with too very soon.

He looked at my belly. The baby. And then me. And now? Now he’s not so excited about this whole baby thing anymore. Now he no longer “chats” with baby or eagerly announces the presence of said baby to friends and family. And now, when K pats my belly or talks to the ‘baby’, Waleed begins hopping from foot to foot singing loudly to distract us and if this doesn’t work, he’ll just yell no!Ā 

Oh dear. I know he’ll eventually adjust but I now see that the initial few days, weeks, [months? oh dear, I hope not months!] will be a rough adjustment for him and I’m trying to figure out what I can do to best help him prepare for this impending reality in the best possible way. As awesome as a sibling is, he’s not going to see that at first, and I can hardly blame him. I just need to figure out how to help him handle it in the best way possible.

Any advice on helping the older child adjust to the arrival of the new child? Or any fortunate readers who had no issues whatsoever in the transition? Any good kid’s books to help kids understand the concept? Any advice or feedback much appreciated!

14 thoughts on “On impending siblinghood”

  1. It took a while for my son to adjust to new sibling. But once he learned that baby is not going anywhere and Mama Papa love her as him NO MATTER WHAT, he came along and over years that love has grown. I guess, its a natural scenario.

    I think, first child wants to assure that he will still be loved…


  2. Oh this is a very common concern. The reality is, jealousy among siblings is going to happen. Especially when there is a young child and a baby on the way. Over-analyzing it won't help. But taking small steps will. Let your son feel involved before the baby's arrival, like with decorating the baby room or picking out baby clothes. When the baby arrives, give him some big brother duties like helping to feed or bathe the baby. It'll make him feel like the caring, protective big bro he will be.

    P.S.- I remember you posting about writing/getting a story published. Care to update us more on your literary adventures?


  3. Mystic, thanks for sharing your own personal experience, its very helpful!

    Maya, thanks for the advice! I still need to decorate Waleed's room actually so that might be a fun project to do together in his waning days of single childhood šŸ™‚ As for the writing, my story was published in Love Insh'Allah which can be found here:

    Hoping that the novel sees print soon too, fingers crossed šŸ™‚ Will update on that once I know more but thanks for thinking of me!

    Elizabeth, thank you!


  4. we've had a few issues with adjustment! BUt my daughter loves her brother and wants him to play with her which is still a bit frustrating because he is only 5 months old.

    HOpe you're feeling well!

    Having a new baby is soooooo wonderful (and difficult too). But wonderful!


  5. So far things have gone quite smoothly here. There were times when my older seemed mad at ME, because I had to split my attention. But luckily, so far she's never taken it out on her sister.
    Not sure the things I did helped, maybe I was just lucky:
    – Let the older sibling help. Choosing clothes, helping with diaper changes, making himself generally useful. My daughter always loved that.
    – Change as little as you can in Waleed's routine. Not always possible obviously.
    – Spend time with Waleed only. I found this hard because with breastfeeding, you're quite tied to the baby at the beginning. But it doesn't have to be much, a little walk or time in the garden for example.
    – If you need time without him (to sleep for example!!), have him do big boy activities with his dad or someone else he loves. My husband started going to the airport (to watch planes and eat bagel) with my older daughter almost every Saturday. She loves it and other similar outings (and when the baby was younger, I got an additional nap or a bit of me time)
    – The tip you can find in all the books and magazines – talk about when Waleed was so little and show him pictures. It took my daughter a while to believe that she was one that little, too, that she cried as much etc.
    – Indulge the wish to be a baby, too. I don't see anything wrong with big brother getting baby treatment once in a while. Sometimes it's all in the name, too. Right now, my daughter's water bottle has become a sippy cup again … just like her baby sister has.
    – My mom got my older a baby doll, so she could imitate me. At the beginning, she was not all that interested (she wanted to help with her sister instead) but now it seems to help her.
    – I think I mentioned this one before, but here it goes again – make the baby wait sometimes and announce it, i.e. “Baby you'll have to wait for a moment because right now, I'm helping Waleed” or something along those lines.

    Hope this helps. Sorry for the novel, it just makes me remember last year so vividly … my “baby” is turning one in a couple of days!



  6. I liked Joanna Cole's “I'm a Big Brother” book. (We had, 'I'm a Big Sister,' because my older child is a girl.)

    I liked how it focused on how the 'big' sibling can help the baby and also the things that the older child can do that the baby can't yet (swing on swings, eat pizza and apples and ice cream).

    We emphasized that a lot before our younger child was born and that seemed to help. We had no major issues when our son was born. She loved him to pieces – though she did get a little put out with me, when she had to share my attention. She didn't take it out on him at all.

    BTW, she used to have absolute *fits* if I held another baby or child on my lap before her brother was born. So, just because he seems upset now doesn't necessarily mean it will be big trouble when the baby is here.


  7. I am so very fortunate that George has shown no sign of jealousy at all. Moreover, he understands that Stevie is smaller and needs mummy's attention more, and he needs to eat from mummy's breast and when he does, mummy cannot go to George so he needs to wait – and George waits for no one. Stevie is absolutely mesmerized by George, when he sees his big brother, even I don't matter that much, his eyes are glued to the perpetuum mobile that is George.
    I have done nothing before Stevie was born with George. I had doubts he would understand, but he did, proved me wrong and is an absolute delight. The best surprise he could have come up with! And he is quite good at baby sitting, I mean we're in the kitchen, Stevie is bored and I ask George to keep him entertained and he does! Age appropriately! He plays peek-a-boo and waves the cow at him while mooing – absolutely adorable. George may have been (ad still is) quite a handful in a lot of other respects, but he is the best big brother I could have imagined.
    I am sure Waleed will surprise you as well. Just wait and see.


  8. JEN, thanks for sharing your experience! LOL at her wanting to play with the five month old. I have a feeling that might happen here too. lol

    Natalie, I'm going to cut and paste all the advice and e-mail it to myself as a reminder. Thanks so much. The key it seems is to make sure the older one is validated as the younger one doesn't know. Like you said, the tough part for me is breastfeeding which requires constant care, and also, when I had W I was EXHAUSTED and just emotionally depleted after the birth, I had blues for at least ten to twelve days. . . I worry about that plus W plus a new baby. But we'll all make it through. Thanks again!!!


  9. Thank you Cat! I just ordered the book from Amazon and there was only one left in stock! I love the concept and its simple enough for a toddler to understand. Thanks again!

    Mina, you are indeed quite lucky!!!! I can't wait for the love/bond between the siblings. . . everyone says their two boys or two girls just fight and fight and it scares me, good to know there are exceptions to this, givse me hope!!!


  10. They will be friends Inshallah but I think most kids do go through jealousy. And I actually think the hardest part isn't the first few months because newborns sleep so much and do so little but later when the baby starts cooing and laughing and interacting more (and getting more of a reaction out of you).

    – Rasha


  11. Best advice is: Patience. Patience with yourself and them. My older daughter was so excited about baby sister, but after three days of the baby, she laid on the sofa, softly repeating with sad eyes , “I'm just not happy anymore!” (Older daughter was 2.5 when younger sister was born.) It nearly broke my heart! But that phase passed quickly and while there are moments of tension, they usually are wonderful to each other and very close.


  12. it will be ok. he may not love it at first, but he'll adjust, and you never know, maybe the transition will be easy! telling my husband's daughter that we were having a baby was hard, we knew she'd freak out, and she did, but she came around pretty quickly. once louise was here, forget about it, all she wanted to do was hold her. riley was twelve when louise was born though, so it's a completely different dynamic. kids waleed's age really have no concept of what's in store for them, a twelve year old does. the fact that she got a little sister when she was about four that she now hates didn't help either, but, like i said, it all turned out ok.


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