One of the most enjoyable parts of bringing a second baby home is watching the gorgeous interactions between siblings. Seeing your first “baby” turn into the big brother or sister and watching those precious first bonds form is enough to bring tears to any parents eye.
Helping to prepare your older child for the changes that come with a new baby is a critical first step in ensuring those first few days and weeks are as smooth as possible. Every child differs in how they respond to a new sibling depending on their age and temperament, but there are a few key steps that will help make the process easier.
TALK, TALK, TALK
If your child is old enough to understand, spend time talking to them about what will happen and what to expect with the new baby.
Read books, role-play, let them meet other babies. Preparing them ahead of time will make the experience as smooth as possible and help them know what to expect.
Children respond well to being involved in “grown up” activities so make sure you involve your child in things with the new baby. Get them to help you change nappies, take photos or pack bags.
Many children enjoy mimicking mummy with their own special doll. Perhaps the baby could give your child a special toy that they can feed, dress and change while mummy cares for the baby.
DON’T MAKE IT ALL ABOUT BABY
It is easy for older siblings to feel left out and lost when all the attention switches to the baby. This can be especially true when visitors come. While the new baby is exciting, make sure your other child isn’t left out. Be sure to praise them in front of visitors for the way they are helping, how gentle they are being and generally what a fabulous big brother or sister they are. Make sure they get a chance to show off their own skills or news to visitors too.
MAKE TIME JUST FOR THEM
Don’t forget that your older child needs you too. Take time to spend special one on one time with them, away from the baby if possible. Even just a quick walk or a trip to the park can be enough to help them feel valued.
Even the most excited and accepting siblings are likely to have periods of regression after a new baby arrives. They may start having toileting accidents, revert to “baby talk” or refuse to feed themselves. Be patient and know that this time will pass.