Bringing a new baby home can be an exciting time in your life, and it can also be an uncertain time for siblings. They have no idea what to expect and helping them to prepare for the arrival of their new sibling is important.
Your child can begin to develop a relationship with their new baby from the moment they learn about their upcoming arrival. Remember, every moment that you spend with your child during the pregnancy is helping to prepare them for their new sibling.
Their life is about to change, and they need guidance in understanding all the changes and how each one will affect them. They need to know that, while the changes that are coming will be new, they do not need to be scary.
“A bond as important as that of a husband and wife, is the bond between siblings.”~ Lee Dong-Wook
Creating Meaningful Conversations About The Baby
One of the most beneficial things that you can do for your child to prepare them for the arrival of their new sibling is to have meaningful conversations. You can find out what your child is thinking and feeling about the upcoming change by asking questions about the new baby.
Kids don’t always know what questions to ask, so you can help answer their questions by asking them. Ask questions that are meant to make them think like:
“What are new babies like?”
“Can babies talk or play?”
“Do new babies sleep a lot?”
These are great conversation starters to help them understand what having a new sibling around could be like. Talk often about the realities of having a baby around. Let them know that babies cry a lot and can’t do anything for themselves, but keep conversations positive.
Ways To Include Your Child In Preparing For A New Baby
From the very beginning, refer to the baby as “their” baby or “our” baby. This includes your child and makes them feel privileged and responsible.
Include them as much as possible with baby preparations. They can help choose baby clothing, toys, crib bedding, and nursery decor. Even if they just choose one item of baby bedding, they will feel important and valued.
“If you want to do really important things in life and big things in life, you can't do anything by yourself. And your best teams are your friends and your siblings.” Deepak Chopra
Include them in choosing the baby’s name even if you don’t end up deciding on the name they come up with. Let them make a list of baby boy and baby girl names.
Spending Quality Time With Your Older Child
Set aside time each day to spend with your older child. Let them know that they are still special to you and that you will always have time for them. Try to do something with them that they find interesting and fun.
Use this time to talk about what interests them and also to subtly talk about the new changes in life. Reading books about what life with a new baby will be like can really help kids who might have trouble adjusting.
Show them pictures of babies, or better yet, give them the opportunity to interact with babies of friends or relatives. You can also visit the hospital and view the babies in the nursery.
One way that you can help your child adjust and prepare is by changing their mental image of their family. Encourage your child to develop a mental picture of what your new family will look like. Give them art supplies to draw or paint pictures of what their family will look like soon.
Mentally Preparing Your Child For A New Sibling
Kids need to prepare mentally for the huge change that is coming into their lives. They need to realize that their life will change and the changes will be positive. They need to connect with the baby and see it as their equal, but also someone to take care of and love.
Showing them pictures of when you were pregnant with them can help younger kids to understand what is happening. It can help older kids to realize that their sibling is, in a lot of ways, just like them.
Toddlers will need some practice with being gentle. Show them how to “be gentle” with one of their stuffed animals or dolls and practice this often. Praise them for remembering to be gentle.
Stuffed animals or dolls can be used in a variety of ways to help kids prepare for siblings. You can even buy toy-size versions of baby beds, car seats, and baby bathtubs for them to use while practicing gentle baby care.
Make The Baby’s Arrival Home Special For Your Child
The most difficult transition for your child will probably be when the baby actually arrives in your home. There will be a lot of excitement around the new baby, and you and your spouse will be busy taking care of the baby and adjusting as well.
You can help to make this time an anticipated and enjoyable time for your child. Tell them that you are going to bring a gift for them when you bring the baby home. They will probably be looking forward to the gift just as much as the arrival of their new sibling.
Choose their gift wisely. Make sure that it is something that will capture their attention and keep them occupied for at least a few days while you all adjust.
A new doll or stuffed animal that they can take care of alongside you can help them to feel included and will keep them entertained. When you feed the baby, they can feed theirs. When you bathe the baby, they can bathe their toy as well.
Creating A Joy-Filled Time Full Of Love
In all the busyness of planning and preparing for the arrival of your new baby, don’t forget to help your older child prepare as well. The bond between siblings is a powerful one that begins long before your new baby even makes its entrance into the world.
Your child can prepare to be a big brother or big sister while also realizing that the love that you feel for them will always remain the same even when it is shared with a sibling. Parents’ love is unending.
You can help your child to embrace the new life ahead of them with anticipation, joy, and wonder as you slowly walk through each phase of preparing them for one of the greatest blessings of their lives.
“Siblings by chance. Friends by choice.”