When you have your first child, the love you feel is like nothing you have ever experienced in your life. How can one little being complete you so much? How can something so tiny own that much of your heart?
So when you find out you’re having a second, you have to wonder, How do I have room in my heart for another? How will I be able to show them both the same amount of love? Now if you feel that way just imagine how your child feels. “Will mommy still love me?” “Will mommy still have time for me?”
The most important thing to remember is that kids need to feel safe, secure and loved! When they hear mommy is having another baby, they begin to have feelings of jealousy and anxiety which are concepts they don’t quite understand yet. As a result, they may act out behaviorally and/or begin to regress in their development.
This is why it is so important to prepare children for the arrival of a new sibling. Keeping them involved and part of the process will help decrease the uncomfortable feelings they may be having and replace them with feelings of excitement and joy!
7 Tips to Prepare Your Child for a New Baby
Keep them involved: Let your child be involved in each step in the preparation for the new baby. That includes telling them as early as possible that you are pregnant. Do NOT wait until you are showing as they may become confused about the process.
Have them attend ultrasound appointments: By having them attend at least one ultrasound appointment, your son/daughter can see with their own eyes that a baby is coming. Children deal better with things they can see and touch so seeing the baby can help them process this new addition to the family.
Let them touch your belly and talk/sing to the baby: This allows them to form a connection and bond with the baby.
Let them help decorate the baby’s room: Letting your older child help design the room lets them feel like they are still important and that their opinion matters.
Read them books about being an older sibling: I found reading books to my son helped him understand and better prepare for the arrival of his little brother. I recommend: “I’m a Big Brother,” “Waiting for Baby,” and “The New Baby.” (These are amazon affiliate links)
Turn their room into a big boy room: Before my second son was born, I turned my first son’s room into a “big boy room” including painting the walls, getting a twin bed and letting him choose the theme (Disney’s Cars of course). This made him feel special as well as made him see that he was the “big boy” in the house now.
Have mommy/son days so they know how important they still are: This is probably the most important activity. Make sure you spend quality time with your child before the arrival of the new baby so they continue to feel important. You must also explain to them that your time together may become less, but he will never be less important or loved less!
7 Tips for When the Baby Arrives
Let them visit the baby at the hospital: My son was at the hospital when his brother was born. I felt it was essential for him to be a part of every step (not the actual birth of course). This made him feel like he was still a very important part of the family.
Have a big brother/sister party: Instead of having a welcome home party for the baby because, let’s face it, the baby doesn’t know, have a big sibling party! We had a cake and some presents waiting for Tyler when we arrived home for the hospital. We celebrated his new role as “Big Brother!”
Give them a present from the baby: Give your older child a present from the baby to symbolize their love and excitement to be siblings.
Let them pick out a present for the baby: Have your older child pick out a present for their new sibling. This can be his first duty as Big Brother. It also gives them something to play with together to help strengthen the bond.
Let him hold and feed the baby: This obviously must be done with supervision, but it definitely helps increase the older child’s self-esteem, confidence and sense of responsibility. It also helps create a bond between siblings.
Talk to them about how they feel: Make sure you ask your child how they are feeling about having a new baby in the house. Validate and empathize their feelings then discuss good coping options. For younger kids, you can have them also draw pictures to explain their feelings, while older kids can write it down in a journal or as a story.
Give hugs and kisses often! Never stop hugging, snuggling, kissing and telling your older children that you love them!! Let them hug and kiss their new baby sister or brother as well!
I hope you have found these tips helpful as you embark on this new journey! If you have any additional tips, please let us know!