As a parent waiting in anticipation for your second child there are several concerns that are likely to cross your mind. But according to many parents, their main concern is how your first child is likely to react to a new sibling. Of course as a parent you and your first child have a very strong bond, with toddlers now used to having all of your attention and plenty of one to one time. A new baby threatens to disrupt all of this which in many cases can cause your toddler to act out or regress, such as asking to drink from a bottle and refusing to use the potty. These issues can seem daunting, especially when there is a newborn to look after, however there are a lot of techniques that can help you prepare your child for a new baby and make the idea of becoming a big brother or sister a more positive prospect.
1.Explain that you are having a baby early on
As soon as you decide to tell friends and family that you are expecting a baby it is a good idea to break the news to your child as well. This not only prevents anyone else telling your child before you do, but also allows them to feel involved in this exciting journey. Try sitting them down and tell them what is happening, when the baby is due, and give them time to ask their own questions. This will help them process the news and prevent the stress of a new baby suddenly arriving into their home unannounced.
2. Make your child aware of what will happen when you bring the baby home
Tell your child all about what will happen when the baby comes home, such as how much sleep they will need, that they will cry, and they won't be able to do a lot in the early days. Letting them know the details of what to expect will prevent any surprises and will also make them feel that you are including them. You can also make these changes a positive experience buy outlining how appreciative you will be when they help you with the baby.
3. Let them feel their role as an older sibling is important when the baby is born
Being an older sibling is a great experience, and your child should know that they are doing a great job. To help enforce this, give your child tasks to do and ask their opinion, such as “what baby grow should the baby wear today?” This will make them feel that they are included in the baby's care and gives them purpose in their new role.
4. Try reading books about being an older sibling
There are lots of great books on the market, specially designed to help explain what happens when a new baby is brought home. These are a great way to help your child get excited about their new role as an older sibling and how to act around the new baby, such as how delicate they are. However it is recommended to try to avoid books that discuss conflict between siblings, as these can cause your child to worry about the new baby being a threat even before it has arrived. Encouraging your child to adapt to their new role early on will help keep them excited, and also allow them to discuss any questions that they have with you during story time.
5. Don't blame the new baby for anything
If you can't play with your child one day due to a pregnancy related illness, or the new baby prevents you from doing certain daily rituals, it is important to not blame the baby. This can cause your older child to resent the baby and see it as a negative thing. Instead try and compromise such as “we can always do that tomorrow” or “how about we try doing this instead?” this will draw the attention away from why you can't do something.
6. Make sure you still have one to one time
Even though a newborn can take up most of your time as a parent, it is important to make sure you that you put time aside to have some one on one interaction with your older child. When the baby is sleeping why not sit down and carry out an activity together, such as ready a book or completing some fun crafts? This will help your child still feel as though they are important and that you want to spend time with only them.