Preparing Your Older Children for the New Baby

Bringing a new baby home doesn’t just change your life; it also changes the lives of your older children. Especially if your firstborn was an only child prior to the new arrival, it can be a time of upheaval and confusion. Preparing your child for the new role of older sibling is important to a smooth transition into life with a new addition.

And Then There Were Two

When you are preparing for a second child, your firstborn will be getting ready to lose his comfortable number one position in your hearts. Sharing mom and dad’s attention is not something he is used to, and it will take some effort to help him to understand that while the new baby is going to need a lot of love and attention, you still have plenty for him.

How you explain the impending arrival to your first born will depend on his age. Very young children may not fully understand what you are trying to say; toddlers and preschoolers may understand better if you get a few books about becoming a sibling. The pictures in the book and simple text will make it easier to explain what it means that a new baby will be joining the family.

Getting Siblings Involved

A great way to get your older children excited about their soon to arrive sibling is to get them involved in the preparations for the baby’s arrival. Let them help to pick out items for the baby, and help you to decorate the nursery. Involve them in the process of choosing a name for the baby. Young children may have some strange suggestions, but there is no reason not to put “SpongeBob” on the name list, even if it’s not really under consideration.

If you have a much older child, consider asking if she would like to take a babysitting course. She will learn a lot about how to help care for her sibling, and that knowledge will make her feel more confident in the position of big sister as well as a great help to you.

When Baby Comes

As your due date approaches, you should make arrangements for the care of younger children during your hospital stay. Make sure they know what is going to happen and aren’t surprised to wake up to Grandma’s face instead of yours. If you will need to send them to a friend or family member’s house for a few days, help them to pack a bag ahead of time and keep it with your prepared hospital bag so you can head out the door quickly. Make sure they don’t leave home without any comfort items they are used to having, such as a blanket or a stuffed animal.

Young children may find the idea of mommy going to the hospital a little frightening, so be sure they know that you aren’t sick and will be home in a few days. If you plan to have your children visit you with the new baby, check hospital regulations on young visitors ahead of time, and make sure that sick kids stay home as newborns are very susceptible to illness.

The arrival of a new baby is a source of upheaval for everyone in the home, but perhaps most for the older children. You may see some behavior that is out of character for your kids, a result of jealousy or simply an attempt to get your attention. As trying as it can be, cut your older kids a little slack in those first weeks. They are going through an adjustment period too, and will soon get used to the changes.

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