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Published July 19, 2011, 12:00 AM

Parenting Perspectives: Preparing daughter for new baby

My daughter is going to be a big sister in less than a month. And apparently her brother is going to be an ice cream cone.

By: Sherri Richards, INFORUM

My daughter is going to be a big sister in less than a month. And apparently her brother is going to be an ice cream cone.

That’s what she told me last week as we drove to a class at the hospital called “Our Family is Having a Baby!”

“Our baby is going to be an ice cream cone, and we’re going to lick him and pour food on him,” Eve, age 3, said as my husband parked the car.

“Oh, really?” I responded, bemused and slightly disturbed.

When we arrived at the class, there was a table of life-sized baby dolls for the kids to hold, diaper and swaddle. I suddenly had mortifying visions of Eve repeatedly licking the doll’s head in front of the other parents, siblings-to-be and the two instructors.

Thankfully, she gently held her baby, kissed but didn’t lick it, and was a model big sibling during the entire class (especially considering some of the little boys there carried their dolls by the ankle or in a choke hold). She rightly deserved the end-of-class treat, which happened to be an ice cream cone-shaped cookie.

I’m sure now the ice cream cone comment resulted from her misunderstanding my husband’s explanation that some babies have cone-shaped heads when they’re born. At least that’s what I’m hoping.

I often wonder, though, what Eve really understands about our family’s upcoming addition.

She’s told me several times that the baby is in her tummy. When I ask her what’s in my rounded belly, she tells me it’s just food.

We’ve talked a lot about what will happen when the baby is born: How Mommy will go to the hospital to have the baby and Eve will come visit us there. How the baby will sleep in the cradle in Mom and Dad’s room. She can recite passages from her books about becoming a big sister. She seems genuinely excited, often asking if the baby will come that day.

But can anything truly prepare a 3-year-old for the addition of a sibling? For the split attention of her parents? For all the crying?

I realize she’ll probably regress in behaviors. Eve already occasionally pretends she’s a baby who needs to be carried up and down the stairs.

The class and those sibling books have helped prepare us parents, as well. They remind Mom and Dad to give big sister plenty of affection, attention and tell her daily that she is loved and special to us.

As long as she isn’t pouring sprinkles on her brother and trying to eat him, I think we’ll be OK.

Sherri Richards is 8 months pregnant, the mother of a 3-year-old daughter and an employee of The Forum. She also blogs at http://topmom.areavoices.com.