Siblings And The New Baby
Bringing a newborn home is always an exciting event. It becomes even more exciting - and potentially more complicated - when you bring a newborn home to older brothers and sisters. It's very important to be prepared to help the siblings to adjust to the new baby, to mommy's needs and to their new situation.
Before the Baby Is Born
While you are still pregnant, try to prepare the older siblings for the events that will soon unfold. Many older siblings, who can understand what is about to happen, can be encouraged to participate. Allow them to help you to pick the nursery colors and decorations, to shop for clothes and diapers with you, and to get everything ready. Emphasize that this is an exciting time and one in which they will have a large part. They now have the opportunity to help out in the house even more and to teach the baby in many ways. Younger children can also feel part of the process, although they may not fully understand what is about to happen. Explain to them that there is a baby on the way. Show them pictures of babies, let them feel your stomach as it moves, and give them videos and books about being an older sibling.
While In The Hospital
If the timing works out, it is often very helpful to have the children visit the new baby while you and the baby are in the hospital. Your husband can take the kids to pick out a new toy or balloon for the baby on the way to meet him or her. Then, after seeing mommy and the baby, he can take the kids for ice cream. It can be scary for children to suddenly have mommy disappear. Seeing her the next day in the hospital can help children to slowly adjust to the new addition. If, however, you have a toddler or very young child who won't understand what is happening, and will want to stay with mommy in the hospital, it's better not to take them to the hospital at all.
Bringing Baby Home
Older siblings can be encouraged to create signs for their mom and for the new baby to put on the door. These will greet you when you return home, and will make them feel like they are part of the process. While you will, undoubtedly, be very tired for the first few weeks at home, it's very important to try to focus on the older siblings. The baby doesn't need your undivided attention - and it can even have many of its needs met by the father, grandparents, babysitters and others. Make sure to pay ample attention to your older children in the first weeks that the baby is home. In addition, get them involved in tasks. Depending on their ages, they can help you to bathe the baby, to change its diaper, to burp, etc. The more involved that they feel they are, and the more that they see they have their mommy's attention, the easier the transition will be.
Bumpy Road At Times
While you can ease the transition to having a new baby for older children, this isn't to say that everything will be easy. You may find older siblings acting out in ways that are unexpected. The potty trained three year old starts to wet again; the six year old becomes much whinier than she was before; the ten year old refuses to do his homework. While children will love their new sibling, they may also see it as a threat to their time with you. They may not even realize that they feel this way, and may be acting out subconsciously. Give everyone time to adjust to the new situation and be as encouraging and present for your older children as possible.
Having a new baby is an exciting time in your life. Enjoy the process and allow the whole family to get involved along the way!