Expanding your family size is very exciting to think about because frankly, it’s always lovely to watch and be a part of someone’s growth. However, while you’re looking forward to that incredible new journey, don’t forget about the one you already took with your older children. You’ll have to consider that a new baby might be challenging for your other kids and you may need to find ways to include them in everything. How older siblings handle a newborn is dependent on several factors such as age, but there are general rules that apply. Here are seven practical ways in which you can prepare your other children for the arrival of your bundle of joy.
One of the most common feelings that older siblings might feel is jealousy. They might think the new baby is coming to take up all the attention, and you have to let them know they’re wrong. Reinforce the positives of being an older sibling and tell them all the fun things they can do with their baby brother or sister. Remind them that they will always and forever be your baby no matter how many more babies came. If they are old enough, let them tell you how they are feeling and communicate with them how nothing changes in terms of how important they are to you.
Introduce them to the baby before he or she arrives
It’ll do so much good if you start building a connection between the unborn child and the older sibling early. When having conversations with the older siblings, use terms like “your baby sister,” to start establishing a relationship between them. Also involve them in the whole process, including picking out baby names and bringing ideas for decorating the girl or boy nursery. You can also take them along to listen to the baby’s heartbeat and show them photos of the unborn baby. Allow them to donate some of their baby items to the new child, and help you shop for new ones. This will help them feel like a part of the newborn’s life before they even arrive.
Involve the other partner
It’ll help a lot if the partner who isn’t pregnant spends more time with the older sibling to reinforce the idea that they are still important. Pregnancy can get hectic, and the mummy might not always have time for the older sibling when the younger one arrives. The other partner should be able to hold the child’s attention until everything somewhat becomes normal. Your children should be excited to spend time with your partner so that they can be an adequate substitute for when you’re not available.
Work on building a strong relationship with them
In as much as your partner will be available to hold the fort, you also need to be open to your older child. At this time, they are more likely to test your love for them, and so you must make sure to have a strong bond. Spend time with them while you can and still engage in the activities you two used to participate in. It helps for them to know that the love you have for them is secure. Expect your older child to regress or behave younger than their age, as they will use that to get your attention. Don’t be too hard on them, and praise them whenever they behave in a desired manner to encourage the behaviour.
Teach them independence
The time before a new baby is born is an opportunity to teach your other children to be independent. You must help them to understand that a newborn needs a little more attention and teach them how to do things for themselves. It doesn’t have to be anything too tedious, but little things like tying their own shoes or laying their beds. If your other child is a toddler, then you should get things like weaning and toilet-training out of the way as well. This will help reduce how much work you have to do when the baby arrives and make the older sibling feel all grown up as well. If there will be any changes in their routine, start getting them used to it before the baby comes so that they are not overwhelmed.
Get family involved
While you and your partner are laying the groundwork preparing your older child for a baby, it’ll be nice for your family to be involved. Encourage them to bring older sibling gifts, as compared to new baby gifts so that they feel more connected to the baby. These are gifts that the older siblings can give to the new baby as a warm welcome. Remember also to give the more senior child gifts from the younger child, so set the stage for affection between the children. It helps them also to know that having a younger sibling is worth celebrating so that their possible fear of abandonment is reduced.
Help them understand
There are a ton of helpful activities to do with children to help them understand what a newborn means for the family. One way is to read books about new babies that break it down for the child. Also, you can visit your friends and family with a newborn to give your kids a feel of how it is to have younger siblings. Once they experience it, they’re more likely to be excited about the whole thing! Also, remember to be patient with them because, to be honest, it will feel like their entire life is turning upside down. Cut them some slack, and don’t rush or force them otherwise, you might even make it worse.
Don’t get carried away with the birth of your newborn and forget how the ones you already have might feel. Engaging them every step of the way is a brilliant way to make them feel like they too are a part of this new and magical moment in your life. Your kids will experience a smooth transition, and your home will be more peaceful if you consider those things.