When a new baby arrives with a sibling
As my partner and I already had two children when she got pregnant with our third, we did worry about how the older siblings would react to a new child in the home. We didn’t know where there would be jealousy or feelings of neglect. We didn’t know whether they would love or resent the new baby.
It was a very nerve-wracking time, to say the least. After all, our two-year-old and three-year-old had been the center of our universe for so long. We wondered whether they would be able to adapt to the shift of attention towards a new child.
Of course, these worries are shared by many parents across the globe as they prepare to welcome a new baby into the family. A new child is always going to change the family dynamic. It is essential the outline that these changes can be positive as well as negative. For every older sibling who rejects the new child, there is one who welcomes them with open arms.
In our case, the two older siblings really rose to the challenge and were great help with our youngest. There didn’t seem to be any jealousy at all, even on day one. I believe that our actions in the weeks and months leading up to bringing the little one home made a big difference in the transition.
Before the birth:
Be honest and open with your other children before the new baby is due to be born. However, if you have the talk too soon, they may wonder why it takes so long for the new baby to show up. I would recommend chatting to them a few months into the pregnancy when mom is starting to show.
• Involve them
Ensure that your existing children are involved in the preparations for the new child. This could include helping to decorate the nursery, for example. This keeps your children in the loop, highlighting that they are still important members of the family.
Some people find it helpful to refer to the baby as ‘your new baby brother,’ ‘your new baby sister,’ or even ‘your baby.’ This increases the bond that the older sibling feels with the baby and encourages them to get involved.
• Quality time
Make the most of these months before the pregnancy to spend quality time with your existing children. Take away all distractions and be there for them.
Get out the old baby photos and show your existing children that they were once babies too!
When the baby comes home:
If your older children come to the hospital, make a big fuss over them like their being there is the most important thing ever. This keeps them feeling wanted and involved, as they should.
If your friends/family are planning on showing up with gifts, ask them to bring some kind of small present or activity for the older children to ensure they are not left feeling left out.
Give the older children some important jobs to do to keep them involved. This could be from anything as small as fetching some food or a diaper.
Keep the older children involved in some decisions. These can be small choices like choosing what the baby is going to wear for the day.
Let the older children help with feeding the new one. Some also prefer to breastfeed in front of their children rather than hiding away.
• Show love
Continue to remain loving and excited to see your older children with plenty of hugs and kisses.
Always ask your older children about how their day was and how they are feeling. They may even talk about the baby.
• Put them first
The baby should not come first 100% of the time. Make time for your older children, too, even if mommy and daddy take turns.
• Eye contact
Look at them and listen carefully when they speak. Do not make it seem as though your attention is just for the baby.
Talk about fun memories from before the baby was born to remind them of all the good times.
This time will fly by, so make the most of it!