Expecting a baby is a very exciting time. If you have an older child you may have a sense of worry or unexpected panic on how to balance life with a new baby and an older child. With your first baby you got to bring them home and have the soul focus be on them. Well this time around it isn’t just your baby and you against the world. You now have your older child plus the baby. This can be difficult for both you and your older child. So it is a good idea to help prepare your older child for the baby so that it helps the transition when you all are home together.
Depending on how big the age difference is between your two children can determine how much you need to do to prepare them for the upcoming baby. Make sure you tell your older child in language that they understand. That Mommy is having a baby and it is growing in her belly. Show them how your belly is growing, let them talk to your belly saying that your baby sister or brother in there is excited to meet them. This allows them to have as much time as possible to absorb the information and get used to what is happening. There are kid books you can by for your older child such as, I am a Big Brother by Caroline Jay Church or Big Sisters are the Best by Fran Manushkin. You can get these for your child to help them see what being a big brother or big sister is all about. Another thing to do is to let them know what things they will be able to help with the baby or if they are too tiny to help you can make a list of big boy or big girl things that they can take new ownership of when the baby comes. Such as picking up their dishes and putting them by the sink after supper, or taking their dirty laundry to the hamper at the end of the day.
If your child is a bit older and can understand more there is more you can include them in. After you tell them about the future baby you can have them help you think of names, or decorating ideas for the nursery. Picking out a few options of great items for the nursery then letting your older child choose from those allows them to feel apart of decorating and choosing items for the new baby. You can also have them be apart of helping get items ready for the baby, buying diapers, or folding blankets.
Another thing that is good to do before the baby comes is to make sure you set aside some quality time with your older child. This helps your older child get as much special all you alone time before the baby comes. When spending time with your older child, you can ask them about their concerns or worries if they are old enough to express their feelings. You can reassure them that even after the baby comes you will make sure to set aside time for just them too.
Once the baby comes if your child is old enough they will be able to come to the hospital to visit shortly after. A tip from a labor and delivery nurse is when you have other children come visit at the hospital make sure your arms are open and free when they arrive so they can rush right up to Mommy to hug her. There may have been a long time since you have seen each other so make sure you are ready to hug and love on them before introducing their new baby brother or sister to them. It is a fun idea to have each sibling have a gift for the other one. The baby can give a big brother or sister gift to the older child, while the older sibling can give the new baby a gift, such as a little stuffed animal or soft blanket. Ask your older child if they want to hold the baby, but make sure you set ground rules of if you want them to ask before they hold the baby. Praise them when they are gentle and loving to the little baby and that they are such a big help. Words of encouragement are more important now. Go over and beyond on your praise to them when they have done something that is wonderful and helpful, even the little things around the house if they clean up toys without being asked.
Your older child could have feelings of anger or jealousy towards the baby. If this happens don’t get too upset. Help reassure your child that they are loved, maybe give the baby to Dad so Mom can have one on one time with the older child. While feeding the baby you can have your older child snuggle with you or have a special sticker book they work on when you are in the middle of feeding. Or maybe there is a favorite show you can turn on when there is down time that the two of you can enjoy while baby is being fed or changed.
Make sure your older child knows that right when baby comes home they will eat, sleep, and lay. They won’t come out an instant playmate. Meaning that between feeding and changing your baby there will still be time to play with toys and do things that the older child wants to do while the baby naps.
The main thing you can do for your older child if you are having a baby is to be honest and communicate with them. Reassurance is huge. Reassure them that they are loved, and there is always a spot for them in the house. Be as honest as you can with them as to how life may change or look different with the new baby. Let them know that you will be able to do special things with them at times too. Allow them to have special things they can do for the baby in preparation or after the baby arrives. Remember that if your older child regresses a little that is OK, it is normal to happen when a big change happens. Try not to get angry at your child if regression does happen be patient and praise your child when they act like a grown up or do grown up things. The family dynamic will change with a new baby just make sure you shower your family with love and reassurance to let them know that everyone has a special role in the family.
New Baby On The Way - Tips for Helping Older Children Adjust #HealthStatus
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