You just arrived home with your new baby and now you can begin the new chapter in your life as a two-child family. However, things aren't the same as before: your older child isn't used to sharing their attention from you with the new baby. All you have to do is help connect your older child with their new sibling with some thought, sensitivity and planning.
How to Prepare Your First Born Child for the New Arrival
When you find out that you are having a second child in your family, it is not just your life that is going to be affected by the new arrival. Your first born child will feel concerned knowing that when the baby comes along that they will no longer be the centre of your attention. Your child might feel afraid that they won’t be a part of the family anymore after the arrival of the new baby.
Below are some practical tips to help prepare your older child for the new baby:
- Explain to your child that you will still love them just as much as before and that the new baby will love them too.
- Involve your child during the pregnancy. Let your child feel their little brother or sister in your tummy, so they can feel a part of this important family event.
- Answer any questions your child may have openly and honestly. By talking to you about their concerns, this will help your older child deal with any problems they might feel when the baby comes along.
- Let your child buy a present for the new baby and make sure the baby has a new present for your older child too.
- Remember that your older child will need to feel love and attention even though the focus is on the new baby.
- Try and spend some quality time with your first born child every day. This is important as this helps to remind them that they are still loved and valued and will not feel left out.
- Give some choices to your older child like thoughts on baby names, colours for the nursery, which toys to buy, etc. Giving your child choices makes them feel as a “big brother” or a “big sister” before the baby arrives.
A Happier Sibling
The list below provides you with a few helpful hints and tips that you can use to ensure your older sibling is as much part of the family now with the arrival of the new baby.
- Ask visitors to bring a small gift for your older child and encourage your visitors to spend a few minutes talking to your older child before meeting the baby. This will ensure that your older child feels that she benefits from a younger sibling and that the new baby isn't getting all the attention.
- Your older child will feel very proud of the new addition to the family and will want to show their sibling off. Encourage your child to lead family and guests to the baby's cot when they come to visit. This technique will make your child feel important.
- Try not to show any stress or irritation in front of your first born child when dealing with the baby. Even though you may be struggling and be exhausted from having to deal with the new baby, your older child will be watching you closely, looking for any signs of disruption to family life. When your child sees you feel relaxed, they will generally feel more relaxed.
When a new baby arrives in the family it is common for the older child to begin to “act out” and begins to have mixed emotions and feelings. This is fairly common for any sibling. There are a number of techniques you can do to strengthen the bond between your older child and a younger sibling. These include:
- Give lots of praise and acknowledgement when your older child plays appropriately with the baby.
- If you feel as if your older child is attention seeking each time you’re dealing with the baby, give them a game or toy that they can play with while you attend to your baby's demands.
- Encourage your child to spend time interacting and playing with the new baby for a few minutes each day. Tell them that their baby sister or brother is proud of what they are doing (such as completing a puzzle or drawing a picture). This will help your older child feel as if their baby brother or sister looks up to them.
When a second baby arrives in your family, show as much love and support to your older child. This will provide them with the confidence they need in dealing with any jealousy that may arise due to the new arrival in the family.