Our four-year-old daughter is very excited about becoming a big sister, and she’s maintained a very positive attitude about the new baby since we told her around week 12 of the pregnancy. (We didn’t tell anyone else before her, since it impacts her more than pretty much anyone else.) It’s good that we’re expecting another girl, since she suggested we just “pretend it’s a girl baby if we have a boy baby.”
So far my daughter hasn’t been around many babies, but when she is she loves them. We also haven’t had much reason to visit the hospital, so we knew that the sibling preparation class at Woman’s Hospital would be a great idea. We signed up for the A Baby is Coming class a couple months before our due date.
The class description is pretty accurate –
A Baby Is Coming is designed to help “big brother and sister” learn about the arrival of their new sibling by talking about what new babies are like. The class will practice diapering, feeding, dressing and playing with baby dolls. It also includes a brief tour of the hospital and a movie at the end of class about boys and girls having new babies in their families. Parents should plan to attend with their children ages 4-8 years.
My daughter really liked the class, especially playing with the doll. She took it VERY seriously and paid attention to the instructors as much as she’s ever done for anything. And my heart swelled three times its normal size to see the pride on her face when she raised her hand as expecting a baby sister (so she could get a girl doll – hello, anatomically correct!). And then I even teared up a bit to see her carefully touching, rocking and feeding the baby. Imagine how emotional I will be when she actually meets her baby sister!
My one thought about the class, which I did write on the evaluation form, was that breastfeeding should have been more normalized and talked about as the default way to feed the baby and using the actual terms instead of euphemisms (“mom will feed the baby from her body”). I understand the thinking though, since that’s not something the big brother or big sister can help with and he or she can assist with bottle feeding (whether expressed milk or formula). We just added a bit of talking about breastfeeding and what she should expect – and looked at pictures of her as a nursling – to round out the experience for our daughter.
After I looked at the take home materials I realized also how out of date the suggested books and movies were – the most recent from the very early 2000s. There are a lot of great things out there – we’ve especially loved Daniel Tiger’s family welcoming a new baby on the show and in the books – but with that type of information so easy to find online that’s not really the point of the class anyway.
Overall I loved the sibling preparation class, and the teachers were wonderful and patient with all the excited kiddos. The hospital tour should prove invaluable so our daughter knows what to expect and what things will look like when she comes to visit me and her sister for the first time. Parents should definitely bring cameras to capture the kids’ experience.