Welcoming a new baby is always a very important time for the entire family. Ideally, it should make everyone even more happy and strengthen the bonds between the members of the family. However, siblings often need preparation to accept the newest member of the family. Here are some tips to make welcoming a baby easier for the older siblings.
How To Help Older Child in Adjusting To New Baby
Natural Resistance To A New Baby Sibling
As parents, you are probably super excited about having another baby. The youngest family members might not see things in the same way that you do and that is natural. They may have many fears, feelings of anxiety, and questions. What is going to be my life like with a small brother or sister? Is my mom still going to pay as much attention to me? Will anyone really care about me? Will the new baby steal all the attention and love?
Your child is going to have to get used to the idea of being a big siblings and you need you talk to them about what to expect. Encourage them talk about their feelings and let them ask questions. Most of all, offer them reassurance that even though things may change, you love them and you care about them and that will never change. I wrote a journal that you may find helpful for kids to know what to expect and be reassured. It makes a great gift for when you tell your older child about the baby.
Before the Baby Is Born
Everything should start even before the baby is actually born. What you should do is talk with your children about how life will look like with the new baby as part of the family. Keep the focus on the positive things. Tell them about the games they will be able to play with their new siblings and how fun it is going to be growing up with a brother or sister. Share a few funny stories about your own childhood experiences – and make sure that they know that they are going to get as much attention as they will require.
Welcoming the Baby
The crucial phase is, of course, the welcoming of the baby itself. The number one rule that parents should try to follow is that the entire process should be as gradual as possible, especially if the older children feel overly anxious about everything. It might be hard for the parents to divide their attention between two or more children, but trying is what counts the most in this case. If mothers and fathers to do their best to work together they can make sure that the older sibling is not feeling neglected early on. Communication is also very important – let your older children understand that you might not be able to give them as much time in the early days, but that things will soon return to normal and emphasize that this in no way means that you prefer one child over another.
The Later Days
After a while, all of your children should start feeling comfortable enough around the new family member – and you might even want to start showing them how to take care of the baby. Of course, you certainly cannot hand any important duties over to them and you will always have to be around to make sure that nothing unexpected will happen, but the whole experience is usually well worth it. You will be paying attention to everyone in the family, which should lead to the strengthening of the family bonds. As your children grow up side by side, you should allow them to help each other in as many ways as possible. That way, they will be able to feel that they are all fully respected members of the family and that neither of them is being preferred in one way or another.
As you can see, there are plenty of things that parents – and especially mothers – can do in order to make their children feel much better about the new family member. Ideally, the entire process should start even before the baby is born – but it most definitely should not end there. The most crucial phase comes in the first few days after actually welcoming the baby at home – after that, it should all become very natural and, hopefully, all family relationships are going to be strengthened rather than weakened, with your children fully accepting their new siblings.