Adding a new addition to your family is a joyous occasion and something that deserves to be celebrated. However, having another newborn doesn’t come without its struggles. Your parental workload is soon to double, and you want to ensure your older child is just as excited about their baby sibling as you are. If you’re worried about how your child will cope with a new baby, this post is for you. We’re sharing simple yet effective ways to help older siblings cope with a new baby.
Teach your little one about their sibling growing and developing
Young children don’t fully understand how babies are made. And if you have a young child, it’s best to maintain a fun and engaging anecdote surrounding birth and conception. Tell your little one a seed was planted in mummy’s tummy, or you’re drinking special milk to grow the baby. If you’re adopting, you can tell your child that a stalk is dropping the new baby off for your family to look after. And to enhance the experience, you can use interactive picture books on pregnancy and birth.
Even though they might notice mummy’s body changing, informing them of why this is and how it will continue to change makes them feel involved and excited about these developments.
Involve them in caring for the new baby
Once they understand a newborn will be arriving soon, you can encourage them to get involved with looking after the new baby. Including them in the experience will increase their excitement regarding the new baby and the role they’ll be taking on as a big sibling. Gift them a baby doll to look after or teach them skills such as burping and feeding a baby.
Once your newborn has arrived, you can make your older child feel like a valued part of the new journey by having them assist with taking care of their baby sibling.
Be realistic about what the new baby will be like
Often we can get carried away with letting our little ones know they’ll soon have a new baby brother or sister to play with. Although this will be the case eventually, it’s best to be realistic about what the newborn experience will be like. Failing to be honest with your child can result in later disappointment and inhibit their ability to cope with the new baby.
Let your older child know that their new sibling won’t be very active for the first few months of their lives because they’ll be busy sleeping and eating.
Sleeping and eating might sound boring to your now-active child, so relate it to their experience. Let them know they also spent their first few months in this way to become big and strong.
Accept support from family and friends
Helping older siblings cope with a new baby isn’t always easy. During a period of high emotions, this unfamiliar task might feel overwhelming. Remind yourself that you’re also adapting to the change of having a second baby. Whether you’re pregnant or postpartum, accepting support from family and friends can help. Let your older child spend a few hours with their grandparents while you look after the new baby. Or let your partner look after the children while you rest.
Remember, your attitude will rub off on your children. If you’re exhibiting stress and anxiety surrounding your new arrival, your older child will begin to experience this. Take time to rest, relax and focus on yourself. By tending to your needs, you’ll be able to better serve your family.
Set aside time for your older child
One of the biggest adjustments an older sibling faces is receiving less attention. They will no longer receive your undivided attention and will have to share it with someone completely new to them.
As a result of this, the relationship you have with your older child will inevitably change. However, you can help them feel more comfortable by dedicating time to just them. Take them on a day out, play with them or talk about how they’re feeling. Reminding your older child that you still love and care for them will provide the reassurance they crave as they adjust to their newborn sibling. They might not have mum and dad all the time, but they still facilitate strong connections with their parents separately.
Some children can regress when a new baby is born. Don’t punish them for acting childish, but reward them when they’re acting mature and grown up to encourage this behavior.
Helping an older sibling cope with a new baby can feel like a daunting task. As thrilled as we are for the new addition to our family, we can’t help but feel worried about how our existing child will react. It’s important our children don’t feel pressurized or overwhelmed as they face these changes. We want them to be excited and understanding regarding these developments. NBNY recommends introducing your new baby to your child using thoughtful conversations and interactive experiences before and after birth. Using the methods outlined in this blog post, you can make the transition from one child to two simple and stress-free for you and your family.