Bringing home a new baby is a big change for the whole family. This includes any older siblings that are in the home. While mom and dad are adujsting to the new baby who has high needs and requires lots of time other children may be left feeling confused. Here are just a few ideas to help make that transition as smooth as possible.
Help your children prepare for a baby by starting early. This means while your still pregnant! Read books (check out these https://diaryofafirstchild.com/2012/01/26/books-to-prepare-children-for-childbirth-homebirth-or-waterbirth/ ) about being a big brother or sister, talk about babies when you see other siblings with a newborn, ask where the baby is now…How you do this will depend on the ages of your children. Starting early is especially important if you plan to have your children at your birth. There are some great resources for preparing kids for a home birth out there! The more time you give them to make this adjustment the easier it will be.
Learn to be Gentle
This is especially important if you have little ones around. Work on teaching gentle behavior now before there is a newborn that gets hit, sat on, poked, etc. A good way to start is talking about being gentle with your belly! No more bouncing, falling, or hitting! Talk about how that’s where the baby is so we have to be gentle.
Get a Baby Doll
Yes, even if you have boys! This is goes well with the “learn to be gentle” above. Play with baby dolls and encourage your kids to care for them like they would a real baby. Talk about how babies want to held a lot, how to hold them carefully. And again… be gentle with them 🙂 While this is particularly a good tool for very young ones older kids can also benefit.
Create a Special Time
Once your baby is born older siblings (even if they are excited) are likely to be disappointed about moms divided attention. This is completely normal and expected. Find a small way to create a special time that they can rely on. Maybe mom always reads a story before bed time. Or she eats a snack with kids after school. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or long. Just a short time that an older child gets mom all to himself. This means ideally baby is with dad or is sleeping. This is also a wonderful time for kids to get a little extra attention from dad while mom is nursing or napping.
Let them Help
Can a 2 year old bring you a diaper? How about an 8 year old help with bath time? Maybe someone can rock a bouncer or bassinet to help calm a fussing baby? Or the middle schooler watch baby while mom gets a shower? Of course each child will be able to perform a different tasks depending on their own age and maturity. Letting the child be involved makes them feel important, included and helps grow independence.
Expect some Regressive Behaviors
As children adjust to the new family dynamic there may be times when they might act a little more “babyish” than normal. Kids that aren’t usually cuddlers may want to be snuggled. If you have a little one that recently stopped nursing don’t be surprised if they are suddenly interested again!
Give lots of Grace
To your kids, your partner and yourself! This parenting thing is hard. New babies are wonderfully sweet and amazingly exhausting! So be kind to yourself and your family. Accept Help when offered. Take care of yourself. Your doing amazing there mama! <3
What are some ways you helped your kids with a new baby? What worked and what didn’t? Tell us in the comments!