With each day and an expanding girth it is becoming more apparent to Baby Girl that there is something inside mommy’s belly. We’ve prepared her along the way with the excitement of her new little brother’s arrival, saying the cutest things like “Mommy, Me like your new baby.” and I die of cuteness but who knows how the little one will react to her new sibling once she realizes he’s never leaving.
The most important thing when preparing your little one for the arrival of their new sibling is to continue showing him/her the same love and attention he/she received before the pregnancy. This is also true for older siblings who maybe think or feel that they will someway be displaced with the newest sibling. To help your child cope, here are a few tips for an easier transition.
1. Speak to your child – Using age appropriate talk at the point in your pregnancy you feel is appropriate, sit your child down and explain your news of the upcoming arrival. Don’t leave it too long for the child to notice your body changing before the talk takes place or they may feel left out. Make it exciting but remember the child may have some feelings about the new baby that they may not understand, even jealousy. At first he/she might be excited but then only to find later to be feeling upset by the upcoming baby. Expect to answer questions at any point in your pregnancy, especially nearing the end.
2. Include your child – At different milestones in your pregnancy, usually at the point of outwardly feeling the baby kick or possibly hearing the heartbeat via a doppler or a visual of the baby at an ultrasound, you may want to include your child. Do what you feel is best and appropriate. For me, we included the older children in our last daughters ultrasound for them to hear and see the baby themselves. Be careful, upon learning we were having a baby girl, our eldest son was quite disappointed because he had his heart set on a little brother. Later when we discussed his feelings we pointed out the positives of having another sister and he moved from being disappointed to looking forward to the arrival of his newest sister. For younger children more limited information might be more appropriate; use your discretion.
3. Read books and do activities – Purchasing books to read together about becoming a new big brother or sister will help the child accept what is about to happen at the child’s level of understanding and the best part is giving the child that one on one time they need with mommy or daddy. Find activities and printables online to use as teaching tools for understanding and coping skills of becoming a new sibling. Use play time to teach your little one to be gentle and about the needs of the baby. I find it interesting to watch what my toddler already knows when she takes care of her baby doll all by herself. Some of the best methods of teaching are learning through play where it doesn’t really feel like learning.
4. Make an extra effort – Spending quality time with your child is essential to your bond, even more so that you make an extra effort to spend special moments with your child through your pregnancy. There will be changes after the baby is born and your baby will need more attention; be sure to spend those special moments when you can with your other child(ren).
5. Make changes in advance – If your child needs to share a room, potty train or sleep in a big bed, make sure to make these transitions well in advance of the new arrival’s pending due date. You do not want your child to associate the new baby with these new changes which they may feel as displacement and in turn become upset with the new baby.
6. Prepare ahead – Encourage your child to help with decorating the nursery, especially if he/she will be sharing their room with the new baby. Plan extra time with daddy or other caregivers, friends and family for when after the baby arrives and your child will be spending a little more time without you, especially in the first few weeks after the birth.
7. Show the benefits – Growing up has it’s benefits; encourage your child that becoming a big brother or sister means he/she will get to do things the baby cannot. Talk about your child as a newborn and what he/she couldn’t do until now.
8. Give a special gift – Before the birth of your new baby, purchase or make a special gift just for your child. Giving something special will make him/her feel like he/she is being celebrated too and it’s not just all about the baby.
Like all transitions bringing a new baby into a home with other children is a change that everyone in the family has to get used to. Expect setbacks once the reality of the new addition to your home sets in; with the techniques listed here, you will be able to bring your new baby home prepared.