Getting ready for a baby is perhaps one of the most exciting events in the life of a family. For the first born child, all of the attention is naturally on the parents-to-be and the baby. But when that first born child has to get ready for the arrival of a new sibling, moms and dads often wonder how to help them adjust to their growing family. Try these tips to help your older child get ready for the arrival of their new baby brother or sister:
Prepare the older sibling. There are lots of great children’s books out there about preparing for a new baby. Purchase some during your pregnancy and start reading them with your child regularly. They cover issues that older siblings will face when a new baby arrives, like having to share their parents with the baby or having to listen to the new baby cry (a lot!). Books are a great way to introduce these concerns with your child in a format they understand. Sibling preparation classes can also provide valuable information on what it will be like to have a new baby in the house. Or find a friend or relative who has a new baby and spend some time with them to give your child an insider’s look at what it’s like to be around a new baby.
Don’t blame the baby. When a baby is on the way, there are always going to be changes that need to be made. Sometimes the older sibling will need to move out of their crib to make room for the new baby, or they might even have to change rooms altogether. When changes have to be made, try to present them in a way that doesn’t cast blame on the baby. For our example, instead of telling your child that they have to give up their crib because the baby needs it, talk to them about what a big kid they must be to have a new big bed all their own!
Gifts for the baby. Everyone loves bringing gifts to the new baby, but this can spark understandable feelings of jealousy in older siblings. Let your child know ahead of time that the baby will be getting lots of gifts, sort of like a birthday celebration for the actual day of their birth. Most of the gifts will be necessities, like clothing, blankets, diapers, and baby gear, but sometimes there will be toys and things to play with too. Get your child involved by letting them help you unwrap the gifts and get the gifts ready for the baby to use. There will also be a few big brother or big sister gifts along the way that your older child will love receiving.
Make time for the older sibling. Last but certainly not least, spend some quality time with your older child after the baby is born. It can be as simple as reading together or playing a board game while the baby is sleeping, just make it a priority to give the big brother or big sister the one on one attention that they crave. Moms and dads might have to take turns and grandparents can help out too so that the baby is taken care of, but in the end this special time with your older child will be worth the effort. They’ll quickly learn what you already know, that you do have enough love to share with each and every one of your children.