My husband and I are expecting baby girl number 2 in just under a month and along with our excitement we’ve been dealing with a bit of jealousy from our 2-year-old. We’re lucky that I work from home and he gets a long paternity leave, so there will be a nice buffer of two-on-two parenting once the new baby arrives. But I know we can both feel the guilt and strain setting in already as we prepare for the arrival of our daughter’s baby sister.
She can’t really get involved in most of the prep work like setting up the nursery furniture, installing carseats, and so on. Plus, I’m so swollen and exhausted, our long and leisurely afternoons at the park have basically ended as I can’t keep up with her at this stage in pregnancy. So, I decided to dive into some DIY new baby projects that we could do at home, quietly, and together — a way for her to set her big-sister status in motion while also benefitting my own nesting instincts. Want to try out a few new-baby projects that your other kids can help out with? See the below ideas I came up with:
I made the mistake of spending over $80 on one of these for my daughter, but once it arrived I realized how foolish I’d been; you can totally make yours at home. I bought a large, wooden first-initial letter for Baby Girl #2 and a bunch of faux flowers at our local craft store. If you’re having a boy, or you’re not into flowers, you can do this project with all sorts of found objects, from seashells to vintage Matchbox cars, acorns to buttons, and so on.
My two-year-old picked out the flowers she liked from the large selection I purchased, and I had her hand them to me one-by-one for me to glue on to the wood. I used a hot glue gun and glue from Target. Just be careful if your mini is very hands-on, because hot glue burns quickly on the skin.
Once completed, you can tie a ribbon through two sturdier flowers at the top and glue it down to reinforce, then hang it on a nail on the wall. Or, you can take the easy way out and employ removable mounting squares to stick it directly on (like I plan to do).
Painted Stencil Heart
Again, we geared this toward a girl, but you can do anything that suits your fancy. Maybe let your kids pick out the shapes they want to decorate for the baby’s room. I selected a wooden heart ($2.99, Michaels) and used neutral acrylic paint to lighten it up while still letting the wood grain show through.
Purchase stencils in a design you like, or make your own with foam stickers to spell out a word or phrase. To make sure they stick but don’t become impossible to remove, apply the sticker to your shirt or pants lightly first, and then place it on the wood. This removes some of the adhesive. Then, let the kid(s) go wild. If you’re going this route, carefully peel off the stickers or stencil once the paint is dry.
A third option is to do what we did and use little wooden letters (or shapes) of your choice to create a three-dimensional effect. I didn’t quite trust my two-year-old not to get curious and rip stencils up, so instead I let her paint the heart as she pleased, and once that was dry I just glued on wooden letters ($5.99, Target) to spell out the word “love.” Pick a shape like we did with at least one flat side, and you can just rest it on baby’s changing table or a shelf – no need to mess with hooks for hanging.
Big-Sister (or Brother) Kit
Little kids who are expecting a new sibling require reinforcement that they’re important and needed. To be honest, this is the part of the equation that is stressing me out the most right now. I’ve heard from a lot of fellow moms that a big sister (or brother) kit is really helpful in the early days as it allows the older child to be an integral part of the daily routine with Baby.
The kit will house my daughter’s stash of baby items so I can ask her to bring me things as needed, and so she can help out on her own, too, if she sees the baby crying and feels compelled to bring over a pacifier or toy. This one was more of a shopping trip than a project, though we did have fun putting everything in her basket together. I bought a pack of diapers and wipes and then asked her to pick out a toy, some pacifiers, a blanket, and some ointment to put inside.
Once home, we set it up and I made the “Willow’s Big Sister Kit” sign to affix to the front with some card stock and a marker. We used a drawer insert from a nursery organizing kit — even an old shoe box covered in construction paper would do. This “kit’ won’t alleviate all jealousy, but I’m hoping it serves as a reminder that my older daughter is still very much needed and loved. Once the baby is here, I’m going to sneak some surprise treats (like candy and toys) for her in there so if I’m stuck breastfeeding and she’s feeling bummed, I can suggest she take a peek inside for a much deserved big-sister bonus!