Introducing a new sibling to the existing family dynamics can prove challenging at times. If you've never done this before you might be equally as nervous about how this might happen. Adding another bundle of joy to your beautiful family should be exciting for you and their sibling. However, with some patience and engaging all the family membe
rs, you can introduce a new sibling confidently!
Preparing the older Siblings for Baby’s Arrival
You need to prepare your older child/children as early as possible by engaging them on topics around a new siblings arrival and include them in any activities such as getting the babies nursery ready. In the beginning, there will be an adjustment phase for the entire family and as long as you acknowledge this you are eliminating the high expectations you might have originally held.
For the older sibling, used to getting all of the attention, this might be slightly more challenging. Multi-time parents will also have to shift focus on fulfilling the needs of the new baby and the needs of your firstborn and other kids involved.
Adopt a creative approach in explaining to the older sibling(s) in terms that they understand, that the baby is growing and when they will arrive. Allow the older kids to go through the emotions and deal with them together as a family. Preparing them from the moment you are pregnant and educating them that a new little person is coming allows them the opportunity to understand early on that life will look different soon.
It is essential to mention that babies cry and eat most of the time, so even though they will have someone to play with, it won’t be the case from the get-go. You can involve the siblings in activities for their siblings from as early as the nesting phase so they will be ready to help out when you need nappies, wipes or that dummy on the other side of the room! Showcase that you are still a team.
There are additionally many great online resources especially on YouTube that can assist in educating your little one on a new sibling that is coming. These creative ways to show them that there is going to be a new family member will help to excite them or additionally a hospital walk through or brining to an appointment could be a great way to bring that excitement especially for older children if your hospital allows this.
Introducing a New Sibling to an Older Child
- When the new baby is born, ensure that the other siblings are well-taken care of and are given plenty of attention. Ensuring that they have been doing regular day to day activities helps to keep their world as normal as possible.
- Try to bring the siblings to the hospital for a visit and permit them to hold the newborn. Be trustful, confident in their new big sister or big brother role that you have upgraded them too!
- Purchase a new gift that is a 'gift from their sibling' is a lovely method to make them feel appreciated from their new sibling.
- As mum, ensure you take time to spend 1:1 moments with your older child. They've only known time with you first so ask Dad or another Family member to look after the baby while you make a point to play your older childs favourite game with them or for an activity in the yard!
Naturally, it can be expected that older children might react negatively as they feel this is the only manner to obtain attention. Remember - even inadequate attention is still attention! Reward and praise the older kids if they do something right, and make a bit of a fuss around that. However, as soon as you note negative behavioural patterns from the older siblings, try to ignore this and instead encourage them to try other, more positive avenues in order to gain attention. (e.g: Mummy isn't going to help you if you throw a tantrum like that, I need you to ask me politely and I will happily come join you).
It is only normal to not feel like everyday is perfect but when you expect less you feel more.
Ensure that you take time out of your day to ask the older children how they feel, especially about topics such as the baby. Talk to them about their day, and show interest in things that they are passionate about. Listen attentively! You may notice a little bit of separation anxiety which we have some tips on here. Each child has their own unique traits and feelings, and there will be differences in how each of them reacts towards a new arrival.
Positive Encouragement for Introducing a New Sibling
Your older kids can be encouraged to participate in “baby duties” in a positive manner. It is entirely natural that some older siblings might want to take out their frustration on the younger ones by harming them.
If this does occur, have a sit down with the older children and remind them of what is expected and what is appropriate for the baby. Try doing this in a manner and language that they will understand. Which involves getting down on their level and taking the time to really explain. Even if your little one is still quite young themselves you will be surprised at how much they understand. Try to always hug it out.
Include the older siblings in bath and feeding time and motivate them to partake and bond in the experience; it will strengthen their relationship.
The Do’s and the Don'ts - Our Top Tips:
- Read stories or watch educational content about the subject matter with the older siblings - this will also help prepare them for the new sibling’s arrival.
- Ask other family members and friends to make a fuss over the older children as well and not just the new baby when they visit.
- Spend 1:1 time with your older children before and after the baby's arrival to make them feel special.
- Show the older sibling(s) photographs of when they were a baby and what they did, so they know what to anticipate from the newborn. Then tell them how they can help you and the new baby once they have made their arrival at home.
- Involve them in scan's and other doctor’s appointments as early as possible.
- Keep up the routine with the older children and start making subtle adjustments before the baby is born, so the disruption has less impact when the baby comes home from the hospital.
- Even though the older siblings might choose to act out, due to not having all of the attention to themselves anymore, it is crucial to remain calm and not lose your temper in view of any children.
- Move at an easy pace as not to upheave the daily cycle of the older kids.
- Don't take away a dummy or cot to give to the new baby. This tends to create jealousy and will only encourage acting out. If you do need the cot for the new baby then transition them a couple of months before the baby arrives and keep the cot out of sight - bringing it out only once the baby arrives.
Being calm and patient and gradually making changes will ensure that there is as little disruption to your older children’s lives as possible. Adequately preparing the older siblings and spending some alone time with them before the baby is born will go a long way.
You will be surprised at how quickly the older siblings will step up to the plate in their own little manner by helping out where they can, and will even gain some sense of independence.
Most importantly, the bond between them and seeing how they interact and love each other will always outweigh any bad day you have! We all have bad days so be kind to yourself, take a breath and get excited because a new kind of parenting magic is about to happen in your life!