How do you prepare your child for a sibling?
So you are about to become a parent once again and your little one is soon going to have a friend for life — congratulations!
While becoming a parent for the second time may be less stressful in a lot of ways, you’re probably worried about how your older child will be affected with a new baby at home. To ease your concerns, we’ve answered a few common questions with tried and tested tips from parents and experts. Let's get your older child ready to welcome their baby brother or sister with love!
When should I tell my older child that there will be a new baby in the house?
You should tell them as soon as soon as you are ready to start telling everyone else. If you wait for longer, they may be confused by people’s comments and if you tell them earlier, they’ll probably be sharing it with friends, teachers, and everyone they meet!
You could start by saying that there will be a baby in the house soon and that they will have a friend to play with. Toddlers and preschoolers may not understand what it means to wait for a few months so tell them in terms they understand — the baby will be home by winter, close to Christmas, or when school closes for the summer. Tell them that it’s their responsibility to be a good brother or sister and look after the little one.
Make sure to encourage your child to ask any questions they may have. Spend some time trying to understand if they are anxious, apprehensive, excited, or scared so you can tackle it accordingly.
What should I do to prepare my child for a new sibling during the pregnancy months?
Books are a great way to introduce the topic to your child. Read to them about bringing home a new baby, the birth of a new sibling, stories of siblings, and so on. This will help them imagine the best scenarios and get excited about the adventures ahead.
Show them examples of other families that have two or more children and point out how cool it is to have another child at home! If you grew up with a sibling, share some fun stories from your childhood.
Make them feel involved in the process every step of the way. Ask them to pick out a special toy or onesie for the baby as a gift from them. If possible, take them along for sonography appointments to listen to the baby’s heartbeat or let them to speak to the bump and feel the baby kick!
What is the best way to introduce my older child to the new baby?
In the days leading up to bringing home your second child, talk it up to sound like an exciting day for everyone, including your older child.
Let your older child meet the new baby for the first time when you don’t have any other visitors so it can be an intimate family moment that they will cherish. When the baby is born, bring your older child in with the gift they picked out. In return, have a gift ready for them and tell them the baby got it especially for their older brother or sister. Let them touch and maybe even hold the baby under your supervision.
What can I expect in the first few months at home with a baby and an older child?
Remember that your older child needs to feel secure right now. Stability goes a long way in keeping them grounded so make sure their routines are the same as before. In this way, they won't feel that their importance has been compromised in any way.
Quality time is also vital. Your newborn gets time to bond with you when you are feeding them so keep making conscious efforts to spend one-on-one time with your older child too. If you dropped them to school or read them a bedtime story every night, continue to do that. Let them know that there’s plenty of love to go around and their role in your life will never be replaced.
Yes, you can expect some regression from your older child as they realize that your attention is now split between two kids. Potty accidents and waking up multiple times during the night are common examples of preschoolers trying to go back to a time when you fussed over them more. Experts say it takes 4-6 months for an older child to get used to having a new baby around. So allow them the time they need to get adjusted to the new family setup.
Create multiple opportunities for them to interact with the baby in a positive way. Ask them to sing or read to the baby whenever possible. If you have friends and family bringing gifts for the new baby, have a stash of wrapped gifts ready for your older child too.
Having two children may initially be overwhelming but remember that they will surely become friends over time. So look for ways to keep introducing them to each other and enjoy the innocence of their questions and behaviour until they eventually hit it off!