The birth of a new baby is an exciting time for families, but the adjustment can be difficult, especially if there are already older siblings in the home. Parents often worry that older children will feel left out or neglected, or that they will dislike the tiny, screaming addition to the family. Here are some ideas for making the transition as smooth as possible:
– As soon as you are comfortable announcing the pregnancy, tell your child the news that they are going to be a big brother/sister! You may choose to wait until the risk of miscarriage is lower (after the 12 week mark), but make sure to involve him or her in the process as soon as you are comfortable doing so. Adding a new family member is a big change, and it is going to take time for everyone (including you!) to mentally prepare for the upcoming arrival.
– Involve your older child in the process. Whether it is helping decorate the nursery, picking out baby clothes and toys, or helping host the baby shower or gender reveal, give your child age-appropriate tasks to help him or her feel involved in the process. The choice to bring a baby into the family is out of your child’s control, and they need to be able to feel that they have something to contribute to the family and to the baby. These activities are also ways for you to spend one-on-one time with your older child, and to make special memories together before the baby arrives.
– Make sure to carve out special times with just you and your little one. Soon you will have a clingy, hungry, needy newborn who will demand your attention, and life will become more complicated. It might be awhile before you can do one-on-one activities with your older child again, so be intentional about making that time now.
– Educate your child (and yourself!) about pregnancy and sibling relationships. Reading books about babies, families, and becoming a big sibling is a great way to accomplish this. It’s also important to share age-appropriate information with your child about pregnancy, so that they understand what’s coming and why you don’t always have the energy to play. Be sure to tell them that the way you are feeling is neither their nor the baby’s fault (especially if you feel very ill or moody): rather, your symptoms are your body’s way of keeping both you and the baby safe and healthy.
These are just a few ideas to help you get started as you prepare your whole family for your new addition. What are the best new sibling tips you have received? We’d love to hear them!