Bringing home baby is certainly a magical experience, but what happens when there is an unenthused child waiting when you return from the hospital?
Preparing an older child for a sibling is an important step in expanding your family. After all, your older child has feelings that cannot and should not be ignored. The following tips can help you to make the transition easier for the whole family.
1. Encourage the relationship between your partner and child during the pregnancy. As much as you would like to spend as much time with your first child as before, it probably isn’t feasible. Showing your child how much fun he/she can have with your partner now will make things easier when your arms are full of new baby.
2. Refer to the soon-to-be baby as your child’s brother or sister as often as possible. This makes the baby more relatable to your child, and allows him/her to feel like an important part of the equation. Taking him/her with you to prenatal appointments will also encourage the older sibling’s new role. You can also allow him/her to help decorate the nursery or pack a diaper bag for the new baby.
3. Do not attempt any big changes, such as potty training, starting preschool, or moving near the time of the baby’s birth.
Big Sibling Kit to give at the hospital on first visit to see new baby ~ via Ducks in a Row
Use “Kid of the Day” tool to teach children about taking turns without sibling squabbles ~ via Creekside Learning
4. Let your child know that his/her feelings about the baby are ok. Also reassure your first child that he/she is still very special, and that you will make time for just the two of you every day. You can also ease jealousy by showing your child his/her own baby pictures, doting on how cute he/she was as a baby.
5. Consider allowing your older child to be present for the birth if you are both comfortable with the idea. Otherwise, joyfully welcome your child to meet the new baby. Emphasize your happiness at seeing your child, rather than dwelling on the thrill of your new baby. Encourage your child to hold the new baby and be present for new baby activities, even if he/she cannot help with them. This might include nursing, changing, and burping. Make your child as much a part of the new baby’s early life as he/she wants to be.
Don’t be too alarmed if your older child does not take to the new baby immediately. Older children are often much less enthused about giving up their household positions than toddlers are. Encourage involvement, but do not force participation in baby activities. With the right attitude and preparation, you are sure to have a happy family dynamic in no time.