Bun in the oven for the second time and already on cloud nine?
There seems to be only one teeny tiny cloud on the horizon.
How to properly prepare the elder kid on time to welcome its new sibling without throwing a tantrum.
“[sound of drumbeats]”
It all starts with the announcement of the big newcomer. The timing of breaking the joyful news to the first child of the family is entirely up to you. Other parents feel the need to share the news during the first trimester so that the child has a lot of time to adapt and others leave it for later … for when you can no longer avoid answering the question “why did your belly grow up, mum?”.
Your child’s age is a very important factor in how detailed your explanation will be.
To a very young child who does not have a real sense of time or situations, you can give general answers, such as “the baby is coming out of mom’s belly,” or “the baby will come when mom’s belly becomes too big.” Older children, however, need to have a more elaborate picture- because the clearer the “before” the more enthusiastic will be in the “after”.
Tips before baby is born
Conversation & Engagement. These two will do the trick.
- You can engage your firstborn in the newcomer’s preparations. You can talk to them about all the good things that come with the baby’s arrival: the new amazing companion, the games they will play together, etc. But be honest. Bear in mind that during the first months the new sibling cannot not be a buddy in the game yet.
- If someone close to your family has recently given birth, it might be a good idea to bring the child in touch with them to learn firsthand how cool it is to have a sibling.
- Your kid can be involved in the decoration of the baby room or the choice of the baby swing. Their opinion will feel appreciated and they will feel more excited.
- A picture is worth a thousand words, which means that going for that ultrasound with your firstborn may be the one of the best moves of engaging him/her. You could explain to them that when they themselves were in that belly once and you were just as excited to have them in your life.
- You could also check whether the maternity ward where you’re planning to give birth provides workshops where the older siblings can learn in a simple manner and through experimental play how a baby is born. This would be a great deal of help.
- Another way to engage your child, is to ask them to draw a welcome picture for the new baby.
- Right after the baby is born, you could have them visit you before other visitors. It is important to look really happy that he/she joins you on this very special moment. Careful to check the age permit in visiting hours.
Tips after baby is born
You should keep in mind that the relationship between siblings takes time to cultivate and it shouldn’t be rushed.
- You may let them help you and contribute to everyday chores. They can fetch a nappy, a towel or perhaps they could try to dress up the baby even if that takes ages. They’ll feel a sense of achievement and it will help them bond.
- If they wish to snuggle or kiss the baby, you should let them, showing him the right way to do it, depending on their age. It should come to them naturally, so pushing them to do so, may not be a good idea.
- It is important that your firstborn does not feel neglected at this point. While breastfeeding, you could read a fairytail to your child. Or perhaps you should go for a walk together, while daddy watches over the sleeping baby.
- Pictures! Include your firstborn into the baby pictures and make them proud of being the big bro/ big sis.
- Ask from relatives and close friends to bring gifts for your firstborn as well so they don’t feel pangs of jealousy.
Indifference, jealousy, anger, frustration … no matter what the child’s initial reaction to when the new baby comes to the world, accept it with patience and let their relationship develop into brotherly love at its own pace.