July 18, 2020
Preparing your older child for the new baby can be just as exciting as announcing that you’re even expecting a new bundle of joy. Many first-time parents wonder how to make this a smooth transition for both them and the older sibling.
As someone who works with expecting moms often as a Yukon Oklahoma Maternity Photographer AND mom of 3, I’ve learned 5 practical tips to help you do just that!
Depending on the age of your child, you may notice a change in their behavior once they find out they will be a big brother or sister. The younger the child, the less they are able to communicate how they are feeling. Some children respond with joy, anger, or no expression at all – regardless, it is all totally normal.
This is a good opportunity to help your child understand their emotions while watching the amazing spurt in emotional development. The following 5 tips will help your child prepare for the new baby before he or she arrives.
5 Ways to Prepare Your Older Child for the New Baby
1. Share the news in a way he or she will understand.
Before doing the big birth announcement, be sure to break the news to the big to be. Taking into consideration their age, use words and expressions they’ll be able to understand. For younger children, use seasons to help with understanding time. For example, “Your little brother or sister will arrive when it gets warm outside.” For older children, consider giving them the due date and calendar to help keep track.
2. Share stories of when they were a baby.
As for most children (and us adults too), they do not remember being a baby. Show them pictures and reminisce on their infanthood. Remind them that they were once a baby in mommy’s belly and walk them through the development process. This will help them understand the process the new baby is going through.
3. Ask and include their opinion.
Include the big-to-be by asking their opinion on any and everything you are comfortable with. For example, ask them what baby names they like. Let them help you pick nursery colors, baby furniture, clothes, and even toys. Helping them feel like they are part of welcoming the new baby will help them really embrace he/she when they arrive earthside.
4. Expect changes.
Although you are trying your best to prepare your child for their new sibling, you can still expect other changes. This can include changes in behavior, mood, attitude, and the like. Nevertheless, there is a certain level of understanding that must come into play. Things are one way with a baby in tow (in the belly), and will be completely different once he/she makes their grand arrival.
5. Don’t rush milestones.
It is easy to “rush” your child to meet milestones in hopes of it making things easier once the baby arrives. The truth is, rushing milestones can actually do more harm than good. Allow your child to continue on their natural road of development and embrace it along the way. The last thing you want to do is cause your oldest child to feel pushed and/or left out. Allow things to happen as naturally as possible.
While some kids welcome their new baby brother or sister with open arms, some may show signs of the very opposite. Regardless, the overall goal is to make sure your child feels loved and needed. Include them in as much of the journey as you can. Not to mention, I’m sure they’d love to help. Ultimately, not only are they gaining a new sibling, but they will also start their journey of having a lifelong friend.