Introducing New Baby to Siblings
If you’re pregnant for the second, third or even fourth time, chances are this pregnancy was very different to your first. While you’re busy already looking after one or more children at home, you may be starting to think about how life will look when you introduce your new baby to the family. More importantly, how will your children react? Introducing your children to their new sibling can be wonderful and intimidating at the same time. If you’re finding yourself stressed out, take a deep breath. We’re here to help you navigate welcoming a new addition to your family as best as you can.
Bond With Your New Baby Together
We all know the importance of bonding with bump, so why not make it a family activity and include your other children as well? Including your children during your bonding sessions is a great way to teach them about your newest family addition. Try to incorporate at least a few bonding sessions with your family each week. This could be massaging your bump together while teaching them about what’s happening inside or letting them feel the baby’s movements by placing a hand on your tummy. This helps ease any confusion that a new sibling is on the way and acts as a learning lesson at the same time. This helps older siblings feel attached to the baby which can ease common behaviors such as jealousy after the baby arrives.
Make It Fun
Aside from bonding activities, there are lots of other fun ways to teach your children that an adorable yet noisy sibling is on the way. Seek out books and videos that talk about gaining another sibling. This can help your little ones know what to expect in the future. You can also show your children pictures of them when they were babies or introduce a friend’s baby to your kids so they start to understand. Welcoming a little one can be confusing for parents, let alone little kids, so take your time explaining and don’t get frustrated if your children have mixed reactions. This is completely normal!
Introduce Baby As Soon as Possible
While it can be tempting to ship your children off to grandma and grandpa’s while you get acclimated with your new baby at home, it’s best to introduce your baby to your children as soon as possible. As jealousy is a common emotion that children express when their family grows, try your best to give all of your children equal amounts of love and attention and explain the new big brother/ big sister roles. Encourage your children to delicately hold your baby’s hand or look in their eyes. They may be heavy-handed or confused at first. Don’t worry too much about this - it will ease with time as they come to understand more about their new sibling.
Routine is King
While you may have a ‘go with the flow’ approach when it comes to those first few months with the baby, it’s best to keep up your normal routine with your other children as much as you can. Children take comfort in routine even when their lives have been flipped upside down by a baby brother or sister. If your little boy goes to soccer practice each Saturday, do your best to keep this commitment. If you’re exhausted from being up all night with the baby, ask a trusted family member or friend to help you out with carpooling. If you’re overwhelmed with trying to keep a routine in the early days, remember to take a deep breath and know that this time won’t last forever. Don’t worry too much about the big things and instead focus on the small things. Do you help your daughter brush her teeth every night around 6:00? Make sure you do your best to keep this up. The small things can have a huge impact on your children’s behaviors, so take a deep breath and focus on baby steps for the time being.
Encourage Your Children to Help Out With Baby
While it can be nerve-wracking leaving your baby in the hands of your toddler or child, you’ll be surprised how helpful children can be (with supervision of course!). Older siblings can help shower your new baby with lots of love and attention and even help out with daily tasks! Teach your children how to change a diaper or ask them to help swaddle the baby with a gorgeous Ada Claire swaddle. Make sure you give them lots of praise after they help out with your little one. This will make them feel proud and useful for helping out with their new sibling, making them more likely to want to help in the future. This is a great way to teach responsibility at a young age while bonding with their new sibling at the same time.
What Emotions Can I Expect?
It’s impossible to know exactly how your children will react to a new addition to their lives. It’s very common for children to experience bouts of jealousy when they see you tending to your baby’s needs while they acclimatize to the new living situation. While this can feel slightly concerning to begin with, try not to worry about it too much as this is completely normal behavior for children to exhibit. Your kids may also revert to baby-like behavior as a way of gaining attention from mom and dad. This is also normal! Try to use the strategies above to make your children feel included and useful - this is a great way to make them feel loved while trying to juggle a growing family.
Take a Deep Breath
You’ve got this, mama. There may be some days that are harder than others but know that this time is temporary and will be a distant memory before you know it. Do your best to bond with the baby as much as you can while encouraging your other children to get involved in family/bonding activities. Do your best to keep the mood light and fun and try not to sweat the small stuff. If your children are struggling to bond with the baby in those first few months, there’s a strong chance that they will learn to bond and love your baby as time goes on. Take a deep breath, you got this!