Welcoming a new baby to the family is a beautiful moment for all parents but can be equally challenging, especially if you have older children. The introduction might be completely seamless. However, it’s completely normal that you might be a bit worried and unsure about the steps you should be taking in order to keep everyone happy.
How to Tell Your Older Children about the New Baby?
This greatly depends on the age group. If your child is between 1-2 years old it’s likely you won’t have to worry about this much. It’s not likely that they would understand at such a young age. Getting some kid’s books on the topic or pointing out babies in pictures and videos would be a good start so they can get an idea about what’s yet to come.
Kids between 2-5 can be the hardest nut to crack. At this age, they can be a bit clingy and jealousy can easily surface. First of all, keep it simple but be honest. Answer their questions as truthfully as possible. It’s a good idea to involve your child during the planning stages and make them feel important. Make sure they understand that you will be away while in the hospital and that you might be a little busy with the baby when you are back. Explain to them that you will need their help when the baby comes and that you will be in this all together as a family.
Furthermore, get your partner involved as well. If your child is a bit more attached to you it might be a good idea to get them to spend a bit more time together, if possible. Get them excited about becoming big brothers or sisters. And, let them watch relatable content or read them kid’s books on the topic. Point out the fun things siblings can do together.
Kids older than five may feel a bit jealous. But, it will definitely easier to explain to them what’s going on. Therefore, make sure they feel involved in the decision-making process. Let them help you make some of the decisions while you are preparing for the baby’s arrival. Do your baby shopping together, let them pick items. Ask for their opinions, get them involved in picking names, or something as simple as choosing color schemes for the baby room or their toys.
Let them ‘bond’ before birth. Allow your older children to touch your belly and listen to music together. If they are old enough, get them to read books for the baby in your belly. These are all activities you can do all together while strengthening their connection even before your due date.
After the baby is born, arrange someone to bring your older child to the hospital. It’s a good idea to give them a little gift to make the whole experience even more positive for them.
Keep in mind that your kids will likely want to meet you first. Especially, if you have spent a few days in the hospital. Let them come to you without you holding the baby. And, give them lots of cuddles and attention. You should only introduce them to the baby once they calmed down and are less emotional as we want this moment to be as positive as possible. You can let them meet the baby in the bassinet. Or, if they are old enough, let them hold the baby and make sure they feel that they have an important role in the family as a big brother or sister.
You should establish a daily routine as quickly as possible. We recommend doing this well before the baby’s arrival so there won’t be too many changes at once. In reality, some kids won’t like these new rules and this might upset them. If this is the case consider adding some changes that are considered fun for them as well (push bedtime a bit later for example as they are big brothers or sisters now).
Moreover, establish rules around the baby straight away. Make sure they understand that they can only pick up the baby when you say so. This is very important in order to avoid accidents. Ensure that they understand the reason as why are they not allowed to do certain things around the baby. Instead of saying “Don’t pick up the baby when I’m not around” try explaining that the baby is very little and fragile and can be hurt easily.
When you are all home, ensure that you make time for your older child. Spending time all together is a great way to bond but it’s also equally important for your kids to understand that you are also there for them and they can talk to you about anything.
For older children, it’s especially important that if they have any negative feelings towards the baby or the situation itself they can come to you and share their feelings so you can come up with a solution together and they won’t feel left out.
If you notice your older kids acting out and breaking rules this might be a way of attention-seeking. Instead of punishing their undesirable behavior, try rewarding them when they do something well, and encourage the positive things they do. Make sure they can always talk about their feelings. Toddlers and younger kids might regress at first when you bring a new baby to the family. This is quite common and nothing to worry about but definitely keep an eye on it to make sure it improves over time.
If you feel like things are getting out of your control and struggling with the situation don’t hesitate to ask for professional help. This might need help for you or your older child.
Overall, there are many steps you can take to prepare your children and the rest of the family for the arrival of a little one. However, we suggest you let it happen naturally. Look out for the signs and try not to force things that aren’t working. In addition, you need to find the right balance of getting older siblings involved without overwhelming them with too many ‘responsibilities’. If one approach seems unfruitful try something else. It’s essential that you are flexible with your expectations and don’t put the bar too high. Kids can be temperamental and emotional, it’s all part of their charm. So, let them be kids and don’t force them to suppress emotions.
Is there anything that you think might help aid this process that we didn’t cover? Let us know down in the comments!