We were thrilled when we found out we were expecting our second blessing, then became a bit panicked when we realized just HOW close in age they would be. Don't get us wrong, we desired for them to be close. But we had just started trying for a second and based on our last experience with Baby Love, thought it would take awhile. All of that to say that 2 under 2 was a bit daunting. Being the Type A personality that I (Abbey) am, my coping mechanism kicked in and books were researched, lists made and ideas formulated. We were determined to make this the smoothest transition possible. Famous last words? We certainly hoped not! Well, two months into our new life and we thought it would be good to share a few of our tips and tricks. Mind you, these worked for us, for our situation, and might not work for everyone. But hey, you never know!

~ Give baby a name early on. This allowed Baby Love to have something to attach to my growing stomach. While we didn't decide on an "official" name, we called this peanut "baby". Nothing special, but always the same. We would encourage him to say hi to "baby" and feel comfortable touching and poking my stomach. So even if you don't know the sex of the baby, or want to wait to give him a name (as we did with Baby Love), come up with something and stick to it. 
Even if it is simply "baby".
~ Make baby's presence known. From the moment we had an ultrasound picture we put it in a frame right next to Baby Love's ultrasound image. When in his room we made a point of talking about Baby Duckie and pointing to the picture. When we had the anatomy ultrasound we put the updated image in the frame and pointed out the body parts that were visible.
~ Incorporate baby into the night time routine by having Baby Love say goodnight to Mommy's belly. Sometimes give kisses as well. And to say goodnight to his ultrasound picture when he was going around his room saying goodnight to everything.
~ Bring baby's stuff in early. Given that our boys will share a room we transitioned everything over the course of a weekend about 8 weeks before my due date. We gave him about 2 weeks to acclimate to everything being moved around and then moved around the toys and baskets on the shelf, leaving a few empty but turned upside down. This gave him some time to get used to his stuff being in a new place and to notice these new baskets. Then about 4 weeks before my due date we brought in all the bedding, the toys and clothes. This allowed us to talk even more about baby's upcoming arrival every time he would want to get into the baby's stuff. We were able to say things like "That's for baby, you are too big to play with that." Or "please go put that back in baby's basket. He will want to play with it when he gets here." And "Do you see how small that toy is? That is because it is for baby. Where is your____. Isn't it fun you have similar toys? How exciting to have someone to play with! It will be wonderful when you can show him how to play with ___". Since having Baby Duckie home we have had to say these sentiments very rarely. It is nice to have that discussion out of the way and a good way to build up the baby's arrival. 
~ Incorporate, incorporate, incorporate. We looked for every chance to bring baby into the conversation. "Wow! You share so well. Good job! I can't wait to see you share with baby." Or: "Do you see those kids over there? I think they are brothers. Did you know you are going to have a little brother. How exciting!" It felt a little overwhelming sometimes, but we think it made a huge difference. Especially considering his age and ability to comprehend the situation.
~ Demystify the hospital. We brought Baby Love to tour the hospital with us. And since they, like most hospitals, do tours on set days and as a group, we asked the In-Loves to accompany us. This allowed us to pay attention and ask the questions we had without being too distracted or having to step away. It also fed into the idea that this was a celebration! Something we can't stress the importance of enough. Baby Love saw the excitement in not just his parents but his grandparents. He also saw how incredibly supported this new change was by the people important to him.
~ Make the hospital stay a time of celebration and excitement for the child at home.
To do this we purchased a few gifts and wrapped them in the same paper. One of the gifts was an item Baby Love had been asking for since shortly after Christmas. It was so hard not to give in and give it to him early, but hearing about his response upon receiving that gift the first night we were away, more than made up for it! 
 We stored the gifts at one of my very close girlfriend's house. She is one of my closest girlfriends all of whom are "Aunt" to Baby Love. These gifts were then brought down to the apartment and kept out of sight until shortly before bedtime when Baby Love was able to open one. The final gift was given before walking down to meet up with us the morning we were bringing baby home from the hospital. 
 While in the hospital we had a variety of people helping us care for Baby Love, all people he not only loved and trusted, but truly adored. This made it easy for no one couple or person to feel overwhelmed.It also allowed Baby Love to sleep in his own bed, be in his own space, etc... while we were away. And made for a "sleepover" type of setting that he truly adored. We could tell his little love tank was filled when we saw him.
~ Create a safe and "normal" space for meeting the new baby. 
We didn't have Baby Love come to the hospital the day we had baby for a few reasons. The first was that it was near dinner time and his "winding down hour" of the day. The second was our desire to look as normal as possible when he came to see mommy in a strange new place. That meant no IV's attached, no hospital gown on. The room clean and orderly, both of us dressed and ready to help our sweet firstborn transition. 
~ Simplify as much as possible! We took out a bunch of one and five dollar bills and put them in an obvious place in our home so that whoever was with our son at the moment would have cash for activities and special treats. This was a huge weight off our shoulders to not have to stress out about this. We also showed multiple people where all of the random items in our home were. The sheets, extra towels, cleaning devices, etc... so that they could help whoever was at our home with a smooth transition, regardless of the circumstances! 
~ Keep the norm as normal as possible. When we came home from the hospital we worked really hard to try to put some aspects of normal into our life. Kevin took Baby Love to church the day after we came home from the hospital so he could be with his friends in Sunday School, just like normal. Nap time was strictly enforced, as hard as that was for Abbey. Totally worth the work though. The same went for meal times. Same structure, same food, etc... It seems simple but if we hadn't been intentional to enforce these elements, they wouldn't have happened. Kevin went back to his rotations the Monday after we came home from the hospital, so the weight of this was all on Abbey, which for us is what made this a bit more difficult. 
~ Incorporate once home. This was hard to remember to do, but made a huge difference in Baby Love's attitude towards baby. Changing baby's clothes on a blanket on the floor was fascinating for Baby Love, he felt included, and his curiosity was satisfied. Many of the first few days home were spent with baby in my arms, sitting on the floor. It was amazing how much this improved Baby Love's attitude and gentleness with baby. 
~ Watch word choices. We realized quickly that we needed to not blame anything ON Baby Duckie. Our hearts are for our sons to love each other, not resent the other's presence. A new baby requires so much time and waiting. However we were careful to say, for example, "I can help you with that in a minute, I need to grab something from the other room first." Rather than "I need you to wait while I go and get baby. Hold on just a second." 
Putting a positive spin on things also really helps. These might not be the best examples that our sleepy brains can come up with, but the point is that we continually watch our words and never BLAME a delay of activity on baby. 

Whew! That is a lot of information. We hope it is helpful! If we think of anything else we will do another post, but these are the things that immediately come to mind. The bottom line is to tune into your child and figure out what will speak to their heart as they face a scary and overwhelming transition. Give grace for all of misunderstandings that are sure to come up. And be willing to adapt to find the best strategy for your family! We are so pleased with how smooth this process has been and have to think that some of it is due to our diligence and creativity. That said, we would love to hear your tips and tricks! 

2 Responses
  1. MB and ME Says:

    Awesome ideas! My son will be 3 when this new one is here and any advice I can get my hands on is like gold. Thank you for practical, REAL advice that is actually helpful. :)



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