Bringing a new baby home is an exciting and scary time for the whole family, especially new big brothers and sisters. Chances are mom and dad will be a little more relaxed than the first time around, but living with a toddler or school-aged kid plus a newborn will be a big change for the whole family.
Here are 7 tips for getting your child ready to meet their new sibling:
Tell Them Early
No one likes surprises, especially toddlers. Tell your little one about the new baby as soon as you feel comfortable. That way they’ll be ready and excited for the new baby when they arrive.
Involve Them in The Process
Keep older siblings involved from day one. Let them help pick out a bassinet, nursery décor, new clothes, or even have some input on the name! You don’t want big brothers or sisters to feel like they’re getting replaced, so encouraging their participation in preparation for your newest family member.
Teach Them About How to Live in A House with A Newborn
Chances are it’s been a couple years since you lived with a newborn. Take time to explain changes that will be happening around the house once the new baby arrives, and why. In the weeks leading up to your delivery date, make sure to explain why they’ll need to be more quiet than usual, and that mom is going to be very tired when she gets home from the hospital. Think about special tasks and chores that older kids can do and try to get them excited about pitching in for the new baby.
Make Sure They Know What the Delivery Day Plans Are
It’s nearly impossible to predict exactly what will happen on delivery day. However, giving kids a loose plan of what to expect will make them feel more at ease. This can be as simple as “grandma is coming over, then she’ll drive you to see us at the hospital when it’s time”. Many toddlers have issues with separation, so it might not be a bad idea to plan a couple outings with their designated caregiver in the weeks leading up to birth to get them more comfortable with the whole situation.
Give A Gift from Their New Brother or Sister
We’re all guilty of bribing our little ones from time to time, and this should be no exception. A small gift, like an activity book and box of crayons, will keep them occupied and make them feel included on a day where all eyes aren’t going to be on them. Think about including a note from the baby that says how excited they are to join the family, and how happy they are to be here.
Make Sure They Know It’s Going to Be Fun
This one’s a no brainer. Make sure they know how much fun they’re going to have with their new brother or sister by telling them about activities they can do together. Make sure they know they’re going to have to share, but really emphasize that it’s going to be a great experience for the whole family.
Block Off Special Time to Spend One-On-One Together
During the last weeks of pregnancy, plan a special activity to do one-on-one with your older child. You’re not going to have as much time to spend alone with them once the baby arrives, so pick something special that you don’t get to do often.
At the end of the day, there isn’t a right or wrong way to welcome a new baby, or how to introduce your toddler to a new baby. Savor every moment, and remember that even though the days feel long, they years are short, and they’re not going to be this little forever. Good luck!