Having a baby is an exciting time for everyone. There is so much to do to get ready. Even with the second or third child, there is much to get done; prepare the room, make sure you have enough clothes or get them out of storage and washed. The list is so exhaustive that sometimes we forget to prepare one child for another.
The entire household dynamic changes when another baby is brought home from the hospital. It takes some time for everyone to adjust. Pretty soon the excitement of having a new brother or sister wears off and reality sets. For a kid, a new sibling comes more responsibility and less attention.
In between unpacking the baby clothes and putting together new baby furniture, carve out some time to prepare your child for the life changing event that is bringing home a baby. Talk to them, use other resources to reinforce your points, practice and give them a chance to make their feelings known.
Talk to Your Child
Start preparing your child immediately for the changes and expectations ahead. Let them know what having a new baby in the house will mean for them and for you as the parent. Tell them how a baby is going to act (lots of sleeping, eating and crying). Explain that some of the time you will be helping the baby, and let them know how they can help. Talk about the expectations and responsibility they now gain as the older sibling. Giving them greater responsibility will help with feelings of jealousy or anxiety they may feel.
Use Resources to Supplement Your Preparation
There are so many children’s books about having a new baby in the house. Go to the library or buy some and read together. Teach using those books and talk about how the characters acted and reacted. Kid’s television shows also have great episodes of problems that arise when a baby is born. Sometimes as parents we can teach, but if a favorite character says the same thing then it must be true.
Time to play. Bring out the dolls and show your child what to expect. Let them take care of a crying baby, feed them and change the diaper. Use the doll to allow a child to learn how to correctly hold a baby. Make the learning experience fun.
Be Aware of Everyone’s Feelings
New feelings will arise when you bring home baby, often ones that an older sibling cannot articulate. If your older child is behaving unusual talk to them and let them share their feelings. Try to find some time to spend together, without the baby and have fun. You don’t have to leave the house as long as it is focused attention. This is hard to do, but well worth it.
If will take everyone some time to get into a routine. Make sure to talk to your child about the what will change and the new expectations. Use other resources, books, television, songs to help them transition. Allow them to help with taking care of the baby and practice if you need to. Listen and accept feelings the older child may have, no matter how you feel.
Have patience, it is a difficult time for everyone. There is much to prepare. With a sibling comes a lot of fun, allowing for great interactions and love.