For those who are thinking about expanding or are about to, you may be wondering how this change could affect your firstborn. It’s important to know that each family dynamic is different, and that every child will react different to the news and the arrival of a new sibling. We’ve all see the heartwarming videos of older siblings crying when they met their little brother or sister for the first time and the videos of a child crying when they found out their sibling isn’t a boy or a girl as they hoped. So how do families best explain and prepare their firstborns for the new addition to the family?
Depending on the child’s age, there are many different ways you can help prepare your family for a new baby. No matter what, it’s best to explain what’s happening in terms that will make sense to your child and make them feel included in the process. More ideas include:
- Reading books about new babies or siblings
- Having your child help pick out colors or decorations for the baby’s room
- Looking at baby pictures of your child and family members
- Spending time with a family member or friend who has a baby
- Giving your child a doll so that they can practice holding and taking care of their future baby brother or sister
- Having them draw pictures to give to the baby when they are born
- Preparing them for when you go into labor and will be in the hospital
Once the baby arrives, the new baby will be getting a lot of attention. Many families like to do something special for the older child, so they do not feel left out. This could be something as simple as a special lunch date or outing with grandma and grandpa or getting them a small gift from their new brother or sister.
It’s important for families to keep in mind that it is natural for the older child to become jealous throughout the pregnancy or once the baby arrives because of how much attention the baby is getting. Children also have a tendency to regress, such as having toilet training accidents or wanting a pacifier or bottle again. This is completely normal behavior.
To help limit these instances, families are encouraged to explain to their children the best they can that a new baby will need a lot of attention. Include your children in the explanation by telling them stories about when they were the same age and how you cared for them. If your child is old enough, encourage them to speak about their feelings.
What was the key to helping your child prepare for a new sibling?