One of the (many) things that I was worried about when pregnant with Levi was how Jagger would respond to his new brother. Would he be jealous and aggressive? Would he be loving and helpful? Would he try to flush him down the toilet? (A friend’s eldest requested it!)
Turns out this was just another thing that I didn’t need to worry about! He loves his little bro. That’s not to say he hasn’t acted out, of course he has- his world just got rocked! He decided he didn’t want to eat, bath or nap for a good week… That was fun.
I did a lot to prep JJ for his little brother and set the stage for success. So what exactly did I do? Being that I’m as anal as they come, here’s my 6 step plan: (Don’t judge me)
- Tell JJ he’s getting a baby. We read loads of books about babies/siblings and I made him a book on Twigtales about his soon to be sibling. (You can totally draw/make one instead, I just have less artistic skill than a lizard.) I think that by talking about what was coming and making it exciting and positive rather than all about the coming changes, we got JJ amped to be a big bro. He was getting something (a baby) and he was going to get to teach the baby lots, rather than just having to share his parents and toys.
- Load JJ up with all the attention we could, from every and anywhere. We made sure to make the transition period as loving and exciting as possible. So rather than time and attention being taken away from JJ, he actually got more! Daddy was home from work, the grandparents came to play, and mommy was so excited to play and snuggle as much as possible.
- Mommy’s little helper. I made JJ my assistant. No, he didn’t get me coffee and sort my emails (although that would have been rad), he helped me with all things Baby. He passed me diapers, helped me “organize” the baby’s things while I bathed Levi, or showed Levi how to dance. He felt useful and needed in our newly expanded family.
- Equality (or the illusion of). My girlfriend Radhi gave me this advice and I love it! She said to let JJ feel like the rules apply to Levi too. So when Levi is crying and I’m with JJ, I simply say “Levi, I hear that you need mommy but I’m with JJ right now, I’ll be there as soon as I can.” And then of course go to the baby, but that 5 seconds makes JJ feel important too. Or when Levi does something that JJ wouldn’t be allowed to, like throwing something he shouldn’t, (even though it’s obviously not malicious or even intentional) say “Levi, you know we only throw balls” so that JJ sees the rules apply to everyone.
- Can’t buy me love. Oh wait, you totally can. Presents, presents, presents! We had 2 gifts for JJ from Levi. One for when JJ came to visit in the hospital and one for when we brought Levi home. They weren’t big, but they were things we knew JJ would love. A truck and a train. Is this cheating? Maybe. Should you do it? Hell yes! Everytime JJ plays with the train he still says “Oh thank you baby!”
- Three is never a crowd. JJ was never told not to touch the baby, or to be quiet. He was never made to feel unwelcome or like a nuisance. If he wanted to sit in my lap while I nursed Levi, I scooted Levi over and scooped JJ up too. If he wanted to kiss Levi while he’s sleeping, I picked him up and helped him. I made sure that JJ never felt like he wasn’t included or wanted in any situation.
Who knows if JJ will continue to adore his little brother, or try to mail him to China, either way these things (and lots of patience, cuddles and kisses) seemed to have worked for us so far.