Baby number two is on the way and baby number one has no idea what he or she is in for. A lot of preparations will need to be made when your family is adding a new tiny human to the mix, but one thing you don’t want to overlook is preparing your first born child(ren) for their new sibling.
Newborns need a lot of care and attention, and although mom and dad are over-the-moon, baby number one might not be as equally enthused. This change can be hard for older siblings; feelings of jealousy can creep up and can result in your first born acting out.
But don’t fret mama! If you actively prepare your kids for the newborn, it can make things easier for everyone.
Obviously there is no one-size fits all answer and your approach will depends on the soon-to-be sibling’s age and maturity. For example, a preschooler may not grasp the concept of time, so explaining that the baby will be arriving in months won’t resonate. Try using seasons or holidays/special occasions to explain the timeline.
There’s always the looming question of “where do babies come from?” – but your child probably wants to know literally where they come from, so a simple explanation that the baby comes from the uterus, in a mommy’s belly, might be enough. Keep it short and sweet and allow them to openly express their questions and concerns.
Other ways to prepare:
- Show your child their baby pictures.
- Introduce him or her to other babies.
- Read (age-appropriate) books about birth.
- Include them in the preparations (picking a name, packing the hospital bag, going to the doctor appointments).
- Reinforce your child’s role as the older sibling and the protector; use language like “your little brother” instead of “the new baby”.
It’s also important to give your first born the opportunity to talk about their feelings around having a new brother or sister. Keep them involved as the due date gets closer and make sure they know what to expect when the day arrives.
Although it might make every task twice as long, letting the new brother or sister help out with your daily to-dos can really make a difference. Do what you can to keep them included and make them feel valued:
- Make one-on-one time with the older child and give them your undivided attention.
- Remind friends and family to chat with your older child about topics other than the new baby.
- Keep normal routines – if your older child is in daycare or school, don’t feel guilty about continuing to send them.
Kids are perceptive, so the golden rule is to be open with them about what’s coming. Not knowing what’s going on with mom could create anxiety. You know your child best, so you should evaluate your specific situation and go from there.
It’s normal to go through a transition period, so be prepared to tolerate however your child is feeling – acknowledge it and validate it. Children look to their parents to determine how they should feel about a situation, so if you’re calm and positive, chances are they will be too!
-- Jaida Shenfield
a Fabulous freelance writer, and apart of the Ella Bella Maternity Boutique team!