Preparing for the arrival of a firstborn is a lot different than preparing for the arrival of the next, in such a way that parents will also have to prepare their firstborn to become an older sibling. It’s a lot easier said than done, and it takes a lot of consistency on the part of the mom and dad. We asked Mommy Mabelle Pangilinan on how she and her husband prepared their 9-year-old Isabella (Sab) to be a first time Ate to baby boy Andres. Mommies, take notes! These tips may come in handy when baby # 2 is on the way!
“Even before Andres was born, we prepared Sab by including her in some of the decision making. For example, my husband and I asked for suggestions for baby names, so we brainstormed with her. We had fun searching the internet! It was an exciting time for us because we didn’t know yet if the baby was a boy or a girl so we were thinking of two names, and we also read about the meaning behind the names. It was a fun activity!” – Mommy Mabelle
“We made the baby reveal and gender reveal especially for her and not to a large audience because we wanted her to feel extra special. First, we thought of a special way of breaking the news to her that she’s going to be an Ate. Then, for the gender reveal, we prepared a fun activity – reverse tic tac toe – where she herself played the game. She discovered through it that she’s going to be an Ate to a baby boy! Initially, she wanted to have a baby sister, but we made sure she understood that it won’t matter whether the baby is a boy or a girl. If it’s a girl, then she’ll have someone to share all her toys with. If it’s a boy, then she’ll have someone to protect her. In both occasions, not only did we see that she was happy. She told us she was happy.” – Mommy Mabelle
“We started referring to Sab as Ate whenever we would speak to the baby inside my tummy. ‘Hi baby, Ate Sab is here and she wants to sing a song for you,’ or ‘Ate wants to hug you.’ Even when we weren’t talking to the baby, we would refer to Sab as Ate.” – Mommy Mabelle
“Even before the baby came, Sab was already responsible for keeping her own room clean and setting the table before we eat. My husband’s idea is to give Sab responsibilities related to her role of being an Ate. So when Andres was born, I ask Sab to get the burp cloth, or watch over her baby brother when I need to go to the restroom. My husband and I felt that once we let her become accountable, she will feel that she also plays an active role in raising Andres. That way, she won’t feel any competition.” – Mommy Mabelle
“When Andres was only a few days old, Sab asked me, ‘Mommy, do you still love me?’ My heart broke into a million pieces because I know that it wasn’t just an innocent question. Her heart was poured into those few words. This was especially hard for me too because she was our one and only for 9 years, and all our attention was on her. No matter how much we prepared our Ate Sab, the arrival of her sibling at first will always be an uncharted territory that shouldn’t be taken lightly because it will be the foundation of the relationship she and Andres will have. Since then, I see to it to assure her that I love her and that she’s important by giving her my full attention when she converses with me. A newborn’s schedule is very demanding but I try to make time for Sab everyday, to maintain the special bond that we have even before her baby brother was born.” – Mommy Mabelle