One of the questions I’ve asked most often during this pregnancy, besides “when are you due” and “is it a boy or a girl,” is some variation of “does Ben understand what’s going on?” My answer used to be that he has no clue but for the last month, different things we’ve been doing have started to click.
We have been reading Ben’s big brother book for several months already and that has opened the door to talks about how babies are different than big boys. Babies can’t play toys, eat snacks, or brush their teeth. Babies like to take lots of naps, be wrapped in blankets, and snuggled. We practice being gentle with Ben’s baby doll and giving kisses and soft butt-pats when baby fake cries. Ben loves to get in on the swaddling action by being wrapped up too. He thinks it’s hilarious and giggles constantly (did you know that the Aden and Anais swaddle blankets are big enough for a toddler?) and requests I carry him to daddy to snuggle like when he was a baby.
Now that we’re more settled in the new house, we’ve been working on creating a physical space for baby brother. While the master bedroom was being cleaned, stripped of wallpaper, and repainted, we talked about how our painter was working in Mommy and Daddy’s room, and how Ben has his own room with his bed and toys, and now baby brother will have a room with little baby things in it. Ben’s changing table and large toy/diaper organizing shelf are in the baby’s room now so we go to “Baby Brover’s” room for diaper changes. Ben likes to try to sit in the infant car seat but laughs when he discovers that he is too big to fit! We talk about how Baby Brother has little diapers and little clothes and show Ben how little they are compared to his clothes and diapers. Ben helps “fold” the tiny laundry and put the clothes away.
In more practical ways, we’re trying to encourage Ben to be as independent as his age allows. He is usually quite willing to help put his dishes in the sink, drop his clothes down the clothes shoot in the hall, pick up books or toys, help start laundry, climb into a chair to get his shoes on, or get into the car and be clipped into his car seat. There is always a decent chance that I’ll have to have a c-section and won’t be able to lift anything heavier than New Baby and it won’t be as much of a shock for Ben if he’s used to doing some things on his own already.
We are also trying to help Benny adjust to sleeping in a twin bed. We knew a long time ago that we didn’t want to buy a second crib nor did we want Ben to feel like New Baby has taken something as important as his bed from him. Right now, we’re working with a mattress on the floor with an extra long rail on the side. Ben slept amazingly in his crib and we figured we’d be taking a quick reduction in quality and hours as soon as we switched but I think we underestimated it. We went from Ben NEVER trying to climb out of his crib to almost constant attempts to escape from the big bed and run around the room. For the last few days, we have taken turns sitting in the room and only acknowledging his presence when he steps out of bed. The only behavior we are working on right now is staying in bed; what he does while he is in there is and always has been his own business. It takes him anywhere between 30 and 90 minutes to fall asleep for nap and bed time plus he is waking up earlier in the morning. I’m hoping that by his birthday in September, I’ll be able to report a huge improvement.
(For future reference for me: this was the month of the sudden and intense obsession with Toy Story 2 aka Woody-Buzz. He’d rather wear his Woody shirts than anything else. The movie MUST be watched at least once a day. There are worse things he could have this kind of love for but I’m getting a wee bit tired of it!)