Preparing for a New Baby Sibling: A Twist on the Baby Doll Gift

Wednesday May 3, 2017

A couple weeks ago, Dave and I were at our wit’s end with what had become of our previously lovely daughter. Bean seemed to be full of 4 year old fury, storming through the apartment, not listening to a word of direction, openly defying us with stern looks. We got into that terrible bad cycle of only talking to her to discipline her or tell her to cut it out. She even acquired an imaginary friend who she would just berate for doing bad things.

We thought through all the possible culprits: stress about Dave’s recent travel? Something stressful at school? Should we talk to her teachers?


Or, maybe geniuses, it was the ramping up of Baby Watch 2017. Baby Watch 2017: in which we buy all the things, because it’s been 4 years and we saved nothing. While Bean has had only positive words about her impending baby brother, the nonstop discussion of what we needed for the baby, should we do this for the baby, do we need to borrow that for the baby, baby baby baby, had gotten to her. She might be excited about the baby too, but she was over US talking about it all the time.

Enter Baby Sam.

At first, we were planning to give her a baby doll after her sibling preparation class, to keep the momentum going. It seems giving an older sibling a baby doll is one of the Things To Do when you have a new baby on the way.

But in talking it over with a friend, we realized she was having more fun talking about and planning for the baby doll, than she’d probably have if we just gave it to her. The point of a baby doll gift is to allow the new sibling to mimic his or her parents’ behavior once baby arrives. By holding off on giving it to her and instead slowly giving her the accessories first, we’re allowing her to mimic what we’re doing now: preparing for the baby.

Now, when Dave and I discuss getting a new towel for the baby, she pitches in that her baby will need a towel too. When a friend or stranger asked if she was excited about the new baby, she could tell them about her own baby that was on the way too. Walking in the neighborhood, she checks out baby gear like an expecting first time parent, and wonders whether she’ll need one of those too.

Suddenly, Bean has a stake in every baby conversation. Did she hope for a girl baby or a boy baby? What would her baby’s name be? When did she think her baby would arrive? Where should we put all the things her baby doll will need? Do we need to make space in her closet?

We’ve been slowly acquiring baby doll accessories — clothes, bottles, diapers, a basket (aka moses basket), baby blanket, socks, etc. (Baby dolls usually come packaged with a slew of accessories. I opened the box, and am now meting out the goods to her one at a time.) I let her pick out fabric for a rudimentary baby quilt, and my mom is knitting baby doll accessories. As each item comes in, Bean dutifully stores it away in a designated place in her closet until baby arrives, mimicking how we’re putting things away for Baby Owen.

The transformation has been awesome. She’s back to her usual happy (if still 4-year-old-testing-boundaries) self. We are having fun again, chatting away about our respective babies, and she doesn’t feel excluded from the baby prep.

This is just an idea for anyone out there with a new baby coming as well. If you were planning on giving your son or daughter a baby doll too, maybe hold off and let your kid experience the planning stage instead.





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