Introducing a new baby into the life of your first-born child is no easy task. Your first-born is used to being the center of attention and getting all of the time they want with Mommy and Daddy. Once you bring home your new baby things are going to change. You may be ready, but is your child?
16 Break the News
Sooner or later your child will sense that something is different. The exact time they realize the change will depend on their age. Children under two won’t understand what is going on until they see physical changes, like Mommy’s growing belly. If your first-born is under two, try to wait until the last trimester to tell them about their new sibling.
Since your toddler doesn’t have a developed sense of time, telling them too early may confuse them. You may even want to include your toddler in your explanation, for example, “Mommy and Daddy wanted to give you someone to play with, so we are having a new baby.” Make sure to answer any and all questions they may have so that they feel as comfortable as possible with the upcoming changes.
15 Bond With Belly
Creating a bond between your child and the baby while they are still in your belly will make the transition easier once the baby arrives. Show them pictures of the baby in your belly and explain what is about to happen. Allow your child to pat your belly, talk to the baby and feel him or her kick.
While the baby is still inside of you, the idea of a new sibling isn’t threatening to your child, so this is an ideal time to create a bond.
14 Relive Their Birth
Pull out your child’s baby book and play a game of show and tell. Show them the pictures of them at the hospital and tell them the story of how they came into the world. Talk about all of the events associated with a newborn baby, such as nursing and diaper changes and show them pictures if you have some.
Replaying your child’s baby events will help prepare them for what life will be like once the new baby arrives and it will be a fun stroll down memory lane for you.
13 Include Them
Children are incredibly perceptive. They will not only notice that something is going on with their Mom, but they will notice if they aren’t being included. Instead of leaving them with Grandma and Grandpa when you visit the doctor, take them with you. Letting them see the baby on the ultrasound will be a great learning experience and a cool way to introduce them to their new brother or sister.
Include them in baby shopping as well; let them pick out the homecoming outfit or colors for the nursery so that they feel excited and included.
12 Mommy Might Get Busy
Prepare your child for the fact that you might not be as available to them once the baby comes. Let them know how tiny babies need their Mom’s more than big kids and that sometimes you won’t be able to play with them all of the time.
Although your child may not be thrilled at the idea of sharing you with a needy baby, it’s better to tell them beforehand so that they have time to adjust.
11 Talk Up Grandma
Although you want to include your child in the pregnancy and birth, you likely won’t want a toddler in the delivery room with you. Prepare your child for your substitute during this time. If they’ll be staying with Grandma, get them excited about Grandma’s house. Talk about all the fun they will get to have while you’re at the boring hospital.
Kids are naturally more worried about what will be happening to them than you, so as long as they know they will be having fun while mom is at the hospital, they’ll feel good about the situation.
10 Give Gifts
Since all of your family and friends will be stopping by in the weeks after the birth with presents for the baby, you want to make sure your older child feels special too. Some parents have started giving their older child a gift before they go to the hospital or once they get back.
A simple stuffed animal or desired toy will go far in the mind of your child. It will not only make them feel special, but it will let them know that Mom and Dad didn’t forget about them.
9 Talk Up the Baby
Preparing your child to share their time with the new baby is important, but make sure you tell them all of the benefits of having a sibling as well. Talk about all of the fun they will get to have with the baby once it’s a little bit older. It also never hurts to tell them that more kids in the house mean more toys to play with!
Although you may intend to spend equal time with both children, it’s unrealistic. New babies require a lot more time and energy than a toddler. However, just because you need to be with the baby most of the time, it doesn’t mean you can’t share this time with your toddler as well. While you’re feeding the baby, invite your toddler over for some story time.
Multitasking isn’t always easy, but it’s a great way to give your baby everything they need, while also making time for your toddler.
7 Be Sympathetic
Adjusting to a new baby is hard, especially for a previously only-child. Expect that there will be bad days. It’s completely natural for your child to harbor some negative feelings towards the baby. Encourage your child to express their feelings either verbally or by drawing a picture. Your child will likely take it personally when you don’t have time to play with them at the exact moment they want to play.
Instead of a simple, “Mom’s too busy to play right now," try saying, “If you wait for me to put your brother down for a nap, then we can play trains together.” Although waiting is never a child’s first choice, giving them an alternative time that you can play should ease some of the frustration.
6 Make Them Feel Important
Since you will likely be telling your toddler “No,” or “Not Now,” more often than before, it’s crucial that they continue to feel important. Give your toddler a special job that only she can help you with. Deem them Mommy’s Special Helper. Tell them how important their job is and that you wouldn’t be able to take care of the baby without their help.
Assigning them a job and making them feel important in caring for the baby can help them adjust to no longer being the baby themselves.
5 Talk for the Baby
Unfortunately, babies don’t come out talking, so it can be hard for your little one to understand what is going on with the new baby. Toddlers have a natural fascination with babies so helping them imagine what the baby is thinking by talking for them helps them learn.
Say things like “When the baby reaches out and grabs your finger that means he loves you”, or “When the baby kicks his feet that means he’s having fun”. These little explanations can help your toddler view the new baby as a real person instead of an imposture monopolizing their Mom’s time.
4 Protect Both Kids
As hard as you may try to avoid it, there will be conflicts between your older child and the new baby. Whether it’s a thrown toy or pulled hair - you need to make sure you keep both of your children as safe as possible. Although you may want to reprimand your older child for harming the baby, make sure you don’t take it too far.
They are testing their boundaries and role with the new baby. Although it is important to let them know when their actions are unacceptable or unsafe, don’t take it too far and make them feel alienated. This could cause them to resent the baby even more, and you definitely don’t want that!
3 Praise Them
Newborn babies naturally get all of the attention, so it’s important not to forget to praise your older child as well. Praise them for being a good older sibling and helping you get the baby dressed, or dressing themselves while you were busy with the baby. Your child will reach so many milestones while you’re focused on your newborn, make sure not to miss out on them.
Rewarding your toddler for a job well done, or playing by him or herself while you were busy, will also help to reinforce this type of behavior in the future.
2 Daddy Dates
Since your time will be monopolized by your newborn, get your child excited to spend time with Daddy. Dates with Daddy can be a great way for you to get some quiet time with the baby, while your child gets to do something fun and exciting.
Create a new routine where your child and Daddy go to the movies, or for ice cream, while you get some much-needed rest. It’s important for your partner to develop their relationship with your toddler while you are preoccupied with the baby so that they continue to feel important and valued in the family.
Caring for your newborn will be a full-time job and they will demand a lot of your time, but make sure you carve out a little time to spend alone with your older child. Even if it’s just twenty minutes of solo time while the baby sleeps, your toddler will value this time more than you know. Once the baby is older and you can go out for longer periods of time, take your child on Mommy Dates too.
Your child will interact more positively with the new baby when they feel secure and important in their new position in the family.
Adding an addition to the family is always a challenging time, especially when introducing your first-born to their first sibling. Although it may be stressful, a positive attitude and patience will go a long way in transitioning your happy family of three, into an even happier family of four.