There are many things that parents can do to help their child adjust to the new baby making the transition easier for the whole family. I am looking forward to trying out most of these ideas when the time comes for my family to have another baby. Getting the older child involved helps make this a positive transition for the family.
Tips for helping your child adjust to a new sibling
I don’t yet have experience with having a second child of my own but exactly 25 years ago yesterday my younger sister was born when I was 21 months old. I know it wasn’t easy having to share my mom’s attention with a newborn. I was extremely jealous of my sister and threw a lot of tantrums, just like the tantrums that my son Hezekiah has when I hold other babies.
Be aware of the possibility of regression. A lot of toddlers regress with potty training after the new baby is born.
Involve your older child
One way to prevent some of these unwanted behaviors is to keep the older child involved in preparations, pregnancy, and caring for the baby after he is born. Find simple tasks that the older sibling can easily help with. Some examples include fetching supplies, picking out the baby’s clothes and singing to the baby. Having a way for the older child to help makes them feel important and that they are a vital part of the family.
One on one time is so important now that they are having to share you. It won’t be easy but you can do something special with your older child while the baby is taking a nap.
Communicate about expectations, changes, and babies needs
Talk to your child ahead of time about what to expect and what things are going to be different. Explain what will happen when you go into labor. Will somebody babysit your child while you are at the hospital?
Will your child be present during the birth? One of my friends had her son present during her home birth. To prepare him, she showed him home birth videos and talked about the sounds she might be making. I think having your child present during the birth (especially at home) is a good way to start the sibling relationship.
Explain what babies can and cannot do. Talk about what babies need (the book suggested below is perfect for this). If they have not been around a lot of babies, try exposing them to more babies or practice being gentle with a doll. If your child’s friends have siblings, you can use that as a conversation starter.
When talking about the baby (before and after birth) make sure to be positive and never blame the baby for not being able to do things.
Big brother/ big sister gifts
New siblings want to feel special and these gifts will help occupy your toddler/ preschooler while the parents are occupied with the newborn. Some suggest having this be a gift from the baby.
- sticker books
- audio books
- childrens camera— I have heard many parents say that this is a great way for the new older sibling to bond with the baby and it gives the older child a job in welcoming the new baby.
- activity/ busy bags for toddler
- coloring books
- baby doll
- big sibling baby book
- Big Sister bag this can be adapted for a big brother
- A favorite toy that they have been wanting
Here’s some free printable “big sis” and “big bro” tags for the gifts.
Gift from older sibling to new baby
- Let the older child help pick out a special gift (have them wrap it) or have the child help make something like a blanket.
- stuffed animals– my son and I both have sheep stuffed animals and already have one for the future baby (that does not exist yet).
- A book or toy that the older child no longer plays with.
Books that help prepare children for a sibling
When I was a nanny there were two books about welcoming a new baby that I loved. These books can be adapted to different ages and have suggested activities to help prepare a child for a new sibling. Both books are from the Sears Children’s Library
Other books that are highly suggested by parents:
- My New Baby My Joyful Abode reccomends this book in her post 7 ways to prepare your toddler for a new baby
- Hello Baby
- I’m a Big Brother book or I’m a Big Sister book by Joanna Cole
Basket of special things for nursing sessions
Some of the gifts listed above can be put in a basket for the older child to use while mom is nursing the baby. Quiet toys like crayons or play dough are perfect for this. Check out When at Home’s post for more ideas.
Rainy Day Mum’s post describes the kind of items that you want to include in your nusring basket/ box.
What are your biggest concerns for adding another child to your family?
What tips would you add to this list?
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