Helping the youngest members of the family prepare for the arrival of a newborn is very important. After all, your child is about to become a big brother or big sister – that’s a new responsibility and a huge change for them! Even though they’ll always be your little boy or girl, they won’t be the “baby” in the family anymore, which can take some getting used to.
It takes some preparation, explaining, and reassuring your child, but you can help them become excited, proud, and eager older siblings.
Pretend play can help toddlers get ready for the arrival of the new baby.
Help them practice being an older sibling by having them pretend one of their stuffed animals or dolls is their “baby brother or baby sister” and show them how to share, play, and interact with the “baby.”
Talk to preschoolers about their soon-to-be brother or sister.
Tell them how exciting it will be to be the older sibling and all the cool things you can do as a bigger family. Read them books about becoming a big brother or sister. Preschoolers might have lots of questions about the baby that’s coming soon. Try to answer them as best you can. If you’ve chosen a name for the new baby, be sure to tell your child what it is and use the name when you talk to your child about the baby. Using baby’s name in conversation helps kids transition to their new “big sister or brother” role.
You can also show your youngster their baby pictures and album. Talk to them about how excited you were for their arrival, what is was like to care for them, how you’ll care for the new baby, and how they can help if they want to.
Explain What to Expect When Baby Comes Home
The older children are, the more they will understand, but talking to your toddler or preschooler about what to expect during baby’s first few months is still important. Explain where baby will sleep, what baby can and can’t eat, and that baby won’t be big enough for playtime for several months. Now might also be a good time to visit friends of yours who have babies to show your youngsters what babies are like and make them more familiar with how babies act.
If kids are old enough, let them help set up baby’s nursery. It’s a good way to bond and gives kids the feeling that they’re helping and in involved in getting ready for the new baby’s arrival.
Do any room or bed switching well before baby arrives
If your child has to move rooms or change beds (moving from a crib to “big kid” bed), do so before the baby comes. Get your child comfortable and happy with their new environment in advance of baby’s arrival so they are not experiencing too many changes at once.
Keep Routines the Same
Keeping your child’s routines (we can link to the creating routines blog post you wrote here) in place when baby arrives will make adjusting to a new sibling easier. Routines help kids feel safe and stable, which helps them better adapt to the transition of having a sibling in the house.
Let Them Help
If they are interested, let them be the helper. Give them an important job so they can help out with taking care of the baby. Maybe they always hand you a diaper when their little sibling needs a change or they get to pick between two outfits for the baby to wear.
Give Them a Gift from Baby
When you first introduce your child to their new sibling, consider giving them a gift from the baby. Maybe it’s a shirt that says, “Big Brother” or “Big Sister”. Even a card from you and the baby will make the day special for you older child while the baby might be getting more attention.
Let Children Know You Still Love and Care for Them
When all the attention is focused on the new baby, kids can sometimes feel left out. It’s important to remind your kids that you love them just as much as you did before. During your pregnancy and after baby’s birth, make sure you carve out special time that just you and your other child or children spend together.
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