Updated: Apr 8
During your pregnancy, you've probably imagined the moment when your older child meets their new baby brother or sister for the first time. You might be feeling excited or nervous or even a bit of both. That’s totally understandable! A new baby marks a serious change in your family dynamic, and that can be a little overwhelming.
No matter how prepared you are, you can’t predict how your child will react to their new sibling. But these tips can help you to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Make friends before baby arrives
As a mum, you and baby begin developing a
bond well before your little one arrives. Your other child can build a relationship before the baby is born too! Let them touch your baby bump and encourage them to talk and sing to the baby if they want to. Ask your child what they think the baby might be doing in your tummy. The more you help them feel involved, the more interested they will be when your new addition arrives!
Make the first meeting fun
Take some time to make sure your older child’s first meeting with the new baby is a memorable and special moment. This will help your child to build positive associations with the baby. You don’t have to go over board, but a trip to the park with Dad or lunch at a favourite café with Grandma before the meeting could help your older child have positive thoughts about the day they met their new little brother or sister.
Give a gift to your older child
New babies get showered with gifts, and you don’t want your older child to feel left out or resentful. Consider getting a gift for the newborn to “give” to their older sibling. If you think your child is too old for that idea, simply call it a congratulatory gift for being a new big brother or sister. The gift could be anything your older child will like, whether that’s a new toy, a favourite snack, or a book.
Pay extra attention to big brother or sister
It’s completely normal for your child to feel put out that the new baby gets all the attention, so make sure you intentionally put some of the focus back on your older child. If you’re holding baby when big brother or sister arrives, put the newborn back down and take time to say hi to your older child. You've possibly not seen them for a day or two and they have likely missed you or possibly felt anxious about you during that time. Putting your focus on your older child before making the introduction helps them see that they’re just as loved and important, even if they’re not the baby anymore.
Give your child tasks to do
Depending on their age, you can give your older child some special jobs to do to help you care for the newborn. Whether it’s singing a lullaby to the baby or even helping with nappy changing or feeding, allow your child to feel more involved in the care of the new baby. This can go a long way in helping them feel a part of the change in your family, instead of feeling left out. Plus, let’s be honest, you’ll need all the help you can get!
Any changes to your family can create exciting and anxious times. Hopefully these tips will help you to ease your family into the future with a focus on the positive. Do you have any more tips or did you do anything different to help your older child cope with the arrival of a new sibling? Let me know in the comments.