Expecting a child is a hugely exciting time. However if this is ‘baby number two’ remember it’ll be more than you and your partner who’ll have to learn to adjust. Your firstborn may have mixed feelings about sharing his or her space – and your affections – with the new arrival. So, it’s up to you to try smooth the tracks for this new transition. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to prepare your child for the thrill of being an older sibling. Here are some things you can do:
Start the Shift with Bedtime Stories
While you’re pregnant it’s a great idea to have your toddler talk to his new sibling through ‘mommy’s tummy’. However, you can supplement this shift in his understanding of the changes to come by reading some valid bedtime books on the subject of bringing baby home. This will allow you to tackle the topic in a way that he or she can relate to, while stories of how other kids feel about and cope with a new sister or brother may help your child to accept their own mixed feelings.
Make Them a ‘Big Helper’
The best way to ensure your firstborn remains feeling safe and special with the arrival of a new kid on the block is to find ways of actively including them in the baby’s overall care. Giving them the role of ‘Big Helper’ can make them feel involved and important. Their role may only consist of making them responsible for getting the baby wipes and diapers when you need them or allowing them to attempt to fold the baby’s clothes from the laundry. Letting them know that they too have a part in bringing up baby will certainly help them adjust to and feel proud of their role as older sibling.
Encourage their own Interests
While involving them in their baby sibling’s schedule is necessary to make your toddler feel safe and secure, it’s also important that they know their own needs and interests are just as important. If your first child is already going to kindergarten or school then at least they’ll have that time which is theirs and theirs alone, as well as a subject to talk to you about that doesn’t involve their new sibling. If, however, your older child is still at home all day with you then make sure you have something for them to do which focuses on their interests and creativity, such as painting or junior craft-making. It may also be a good idea, if time and money allows, to engage them in a weekly activity outside the home such as dance classes or a team sport.
Carve out Some One-on-One Time with your Toddler
This brings me to my last point which may be the most important. While a new baby will take up most of your time and attention in those first few weeks of having them at home, it’s still vital that you schedule some alone time with your toddler. It may be something as simple as bringing them and their bike to the park for half an hour or sitting in the garden reading a book together. However, your firstborn will appreciate these moments alone with you and they’ll be all the more accepting of the new member of their family if they feel they still have a place in your life and heart.