Preparing Kids for Another Sibling
Adding a new baby to the family makes for a time full of excitement and joy. You probably get loads of advice on all things baby, but what about preparing the children you already have for the new little one? Many different factors can contribute to how smooth a transition you have when adding a new baby to the household, such as the ages of your other children and how far apart they are, other life events going on and more. No matter what is going on around you though, a few tips and tricks can make the introduction as painless and fun as possible!
The first, and probably most important no matter the age of your children, is to include and involve them as much as possible. You want them to feel pride and excitement over the new baby, not resentment or bitterness. At the time our fourth baby was born, we had 6-, 4- and 2-year-olds. I took each of them on a little date to pick something for the new baby. Each took great pride in choosing the special item (although there were lots of reminders about not shopping for ourselves!) and was excited to show everyone once we got home. Even now, the older kids ask, “Is that the blanket I picked out?” or “Is that the toy I got?” The gift has meaning to each of them and eventually will to our baby as well!
I also shared with the older ones how big the baby was at different stages through the pregnancy and what was developing on the baby when. They were able to come to two sonograms—so special to have them involved in such a cool experience! Allow your older children to ask questions, express curiosity and help with things whenever possible. Children can get diapering supplies, help bathe the baby, put clothes away or even read or sing to the baby.
For younger children, purchasing a baby doll and a few accessories can make the transition smoother. This gives your youngster a chance to mimic what you are doing and stay “busy” while you are tending to the baby. Your family can expect changes in routine once the new baby arrives, so prepare in advance. Becca, a Lenexa mom, started bedtime routines with Dad more often with her older ones. What a great way to involve Dad and help him feel important too!
A great option for older children is talking about and sharing pictures of them as babies. Ashley, a Kansas City mom with two boys, ages 7 and 8, says, “Sibling rivalry is an ongoing process in our house with two boys 15 months apart, but having a baby now gives them both a good opportunity to be big brothers at the same time, which is special for them to bond over. We have walked through both of their births and looked at pictures together. We have talked a lot about what made them special as babies and how every baby is different.”
Older children also can have input on designing the nursery and helping to put it together. Keep in mind if you need to move a child out of the room where the baby will sleep, be sure to do so several months in advance. This can help keep jealousy or resentment at bay.
For children of any age, checking out library books about being a big brother or sister or even purchasing a few to have on hand can be helpful. And don’t forget a fun big brother or sister t-shirt too!
Plan the schedule so your other children have quality one-on-one time after Baby’s arrival too. Becca says, “Our oldest got to spend a lot of extra time with Dad once the baby came, but I also made sure he had time with just me.”
Adding a new baby to the household brings many emotions. Try as much as possible to be patient, flexible and willing to let your children in on the process. You’ll soon have the pleasure of watching sibling relationships blossom!
Julie Collett and her family had the pleasure of introducing a fourth baby to the family just last year and what fun it has been!