Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Waiting for Levi: A party, 4 books & a poem

Let’s backtrack to just before Levi was born to remember that eager season of awaiting his arrival. We’d already wonderingly anticipated our first child, then waited for our first girl with hearts and bows, and now we got to see our kids marvel at an addition to our family. During the pregnancy, Luke often informed us of his plans to teach the little one all sorts of things, from Legos to making mud balls. Eleanor loved shopping for the babe and playing with her dolls became a favorite activity.

Two of my friends were expecting babies within a week of me, and also each had a little girl Eleanor’s age. So to build up the big sibs in their special new role, I hosted a Baby Party about a month before the real babies arrived. Everyone brought a baby doll and I prepared a bag of baby supplies for each big sib. We practiced diapering, feeding, and swaddling the dolls.

We read books about babies and invited the kids to talk about their new siblings. Then we put the dolls down for a nap and painted pictures for the babies’ nurseries.

The little ergo-style baby doll carriers sewn out of fabric and ribbons would be a terrific craft for a baby party but my kids didn’t seem interested in those… and amidst my late-pregnancy discomforts I wasn’t looking for any unwelcome projects! But a special lunch to celebrate the big sibs and build confidence and excitement for all the changes a baby brings was a worthwhile endeavor. A baby shower for the big sibs!

It was harder than I expected to find good books on a new baby sibling. We read a bunch of them and the majority focused on a big sister or brother’s frustration with the changes a baby brings. I don’t mind a couple well-done books with that plot line (such as the humorous Julius the Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes for elementary age kids) but I think it’s important that kids who are unsure about a new baby aren’t inundated with the idea that babies ruin their lives! Here are two we did like, though there must be many more good ones out there.

How to be a Baby by Me, the Big Sister by Sally Lloyd-Jones : This made my kids laugh and communicated in a fun way that they were in charge of how they respond to the baby.

What Sisters Do Best / What Brothers Do Best by Laura Numeroff : Perfect when there’s an older sister and brother, the two-books-in-one layout appealed to my kids and I think they liked how it focused on the big sibs, not the babies. A kid pick though, not a literary one.

I also like having a few informative books about new babies. Five-year-old Luke preferred What to Expect when the New Baby Comes Home (by Heidi Murkoff) with its baby diagram and Q and A format. Three-year-old Eleanor was more interested in What Baby Needs (by William Sears). I liked the way it rang true to life with a baby but it was quite dogmatic on attachment parenting, which isn’t for everyone.

The kids also liked my poem for our baby-waiting season. We would laugh about how Levi kept us guessing about his arrival!!

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