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Preparing Older Siblings for a New Baby

newborn care preparing older siblings for a new baby

If you are planning to welcome a new baby into your family, congratulations! Growing your family is a wonderful gift. If you have an older child at home, it is important to prepare them for what the new family dynamic will look like once the baby arrives. Here, we will discuss some helpful tips that can help with a smooth transition for the whole family.

Talk about the baby with your older child.

Throughout your pregnancy, welcome your child into conversations about the new baby and what life will be like once you give birth. This gives them the opportunity to ask questions about the baby, what might change, and what their role will be. Reading books is a great way to talk about welcoming a new sibling into the family and can help them understand some of the more complicated things that come with bringing a new family member into the house.

Encourage the sibling to talk to the baby.

Even though they can’t see the baby yet, encourage your older child to talk to the baby in your tummy. Tell them they can talk to them about anything they want – books they like, activities they are doing, their favorite toys, or what they want to do with the baby when they come home. You and your child could even sing songs or read the baby stories – this helps make the baby feel more ‘real’ to them and can help get them excited about what’s to come.

Plan for home changes ahead of time.

If you plan on making changes to your home before the baby arrives, allow some time for your older child to process that. Change can be overwhelming and even stressful for kids, so make big changes a few months in advance. For example, if you plan to change your child’s room to share with the baby or move them to a new ‘big kid’ bed or room, they will need some time to process those transitions.

Plan on what the actual first meeting will look like.

Ahead of time, encourage your older child to work on a gift for the baby. Maybe that means coloring them a special picture, or it could be picking out a new outfit for the baby to wear in the hospital. Then, when you have the baby and your older child gets ready to meet them, they can look forward to bringing the gift to the baby. This type of participation in the meeting helps them feel recognized and encourages a giving heart.

Don’t expect perfection.

No matter how much you prepare, you can’t always fully prepare for how your older child will react to meeting their new sibling. There might be some different emotions that pop to the surface for your kiddo when they see the baby in person. They might feel joy and happiness, or they might feel some jealousy or confusion about why the baby is getting a lot of attention. Stay positive and reassure them that you love them just as much as you did before. Also, reiterate that their new sibling will love them, too! Try not to have high expectations for those first few meetings – it might take some time for them to adjust to what the new reality looks like, and that’s okay.

Find ways to make the older sibling feel special and included.

To ward off jealousy, include your older child in as much as you can. For example, that could be having them help you bring the baby a new outfit from the closet or it could mean helping daddy warm up the bottle and feed the baby. Giving them some small responsibilities helps them feel grown up, valued, and helpful. In addition, make sure your big kid gets enough time with you. Call on friends or family to help with the baby a little bit so you can get some one-on-one time with your older child. Even if it’s just for an hour where you can go to the park or grab a special treat at a local bakery, these special ‘dates’ with mom or dad help them feel like they aren’t forgotten.

Remember, bonding with the new baby in your life is a huge change in life and it might take some time. Don’t despair if your older child doesn’t immediately connect with the baby and don’t put pressure on yourself to force things. Over time, bonding will happen and it will need to happen on their own timeline!

If you’re planning to welcome a new baby into your home soon, our team at Newborn Care can help! We have qualified newborn care specialists that can provide in-home care for new parents! Whether it’s overnight care, assistance with lactation tips, or part-time care during the day so you can catch up on rest or errands, a qualified newborn care specialist can help lighten the load and provide loving and attentive care to your baby.  Call us today at (212) 600-2085 to learn more!

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