Bringing home a new baby is sure to rock your world. Middle of the night feedings and attending to the constant needs of a newborn can be a struggle. But, it’s not just your world that’s going to start rocking when you bring home your bundle of joy. No matter how flexible your older child is, a new baby is going to affect his life too. Helping to prepare your child before your new baby comes will make for an easier transition for everyone. Here are a few tips to help.
As soon as you start telling others you’re pregnant, it’s time to tell your older child. The extra time will allow you to answer your child’s questions and prepare him for the road ahead. Telling your child early also helps to prevent others from “breaking the news” to your little one before you get the chance.
Talking with your child about what to expect when the new baby comes is a good way to help them prepare for the change. Visit the library and check out books you can read to your child that talk about bringing home a new sibling. You can also visit friends and family who have a newborn so your child can see what it’s like. The more time you spend talking and exploring the idea of having a baby around, the more time your child will have to process this new experience.
In the months leading up to your baby’s birth, it’s a good idea for your older child to spend more time with your partner. With time away while you’re in the hospital, recovering, and bonding with the new baby, you’re going to be less available for a little while. So, encourage your partner to do some fun, regular activities with your child. It’ll increase their bonding and make the transition with the new baby easier.
Are you planning to move your child into a different room to make room for the new baby? If so, try to make the move at least a few months before the new baby comes. Same goes with switching your toddler from a crib to a big bed. Your child will need time to adjust to a new space and sleeping arrangement. If you wait until the baby comes to make the switch, your child may feel like he is being pushed out of his space.
Include your child in your baby preparations. Let him pick out a special toy or gift for the new baby. If you’re reusing things from your first child, let him play with the baby things before you get them ready for the new baby.
Also, take some time to sit down with your older child and look at pictures from when he was a newborn. Talk to him about what it was like preparing for him to come home.
No matter what you do to prepare your older child for a new baby sibling, the change will probably affect your child. Even the best-behaved children can regress in their sleeping, toilet training, and normal behaviors. Your child may even have more tantrums. It will take some time, sometimes a few months, for your child to adjust to having a baby around. Try to be calm. Offer comfort and understanding. Don’t beat yourself up if your child doesn’t make the transition easily. Each child and situation is different, but it’s normal for older siblings to struggle through a big change like this. Give your child 3-6 months to adjust to having a new baby around.