The Ultimate Guide to Preparing Siblings for A New Baby
Bringing home a new baby is a huge and exciting time for the whole family! But for older siblings it can be scary. Just like you, they can’t know for sure exactly what effect the new arrival will have on existing family routines etc! Here’s our guide to preparing siblings for a new sibling as best you can, with advice taken from parents who have been there already. We’ll be learning as we go as we welcome Little Hotdog Number 2, so all other tips are really welcomed. Leave your tips at the end!
Prepare yourself first!
The first thing you can do is to try to calm any nerves you have around how a new baby will impact your existing children. If you’re expecting baby number two, it’s natural to even worry how on earth you’ll love your new baby as much as your older child and how this will impact family dynamics!! Most parents of 2 or more kids will tell you this is completely normal - phew - and that your love will simply multiply. “It’s like your heart expands”.
It’s also worth preparing yourself that your older sibling may struggle at first (the first 3 months are reportedly the hardest). The change in family life can be unsettling and it is completely normal if they struggle controlling their emotions and even regress in their age appropriate behaviour.
You may find your child is besotted and gentle with your new baby but becomes more tense around grown-ups. Know you’ve done nothing wrong and this phase shall pass. Give extra cuddles and attention whenever possible.
If at any point you feel overwhelmed or unsure about how your older child is coping with a new baby in the house, chatting things through with a fellow mum or a health visitor is a great idea and will give you a chance to offload.
Read about babies and new siblings together
Reading is always a great way to bond with your child, particularly when you’ve got a bump between you and you can and chat about what’s inside! Or even tell stories to the baby together. A lovely way to build their confidence and gently share more about what to expect.
There’s a House Inside My Mummy - Giles Andreae & Vanessa Cabban
This bright and warmly illustrated book is great for explaining to little Hotdogs what exactly is going on inside Mummy’s tummy when there's a new baby on the way. A heartwarming and humorous story perfect for expectant siblings.
The New Royal Baby - Timothy Knapman
The Prince isn’t happy when the Royal family start making a fuss over the new arrival. But it’s up to him to find out what it’s all about and make his new sibling smile. A lovely book for showing how your older child can get involved.
The New Small Person - Lauren Child
A humorous story about what it’s like to go from being the only child to sharing your house with a new small person. Charming illustrations from the creator of Charlie & Lola.
Validate their feelings
The reality is you won’t always be able to give your older child exactly what they want as you may have pre-baby. If you’re changing nappies, feeding or simply catching some rest - an older child can feel naturally put out by not getting their way. Try not to rush in and fix your child’s ‘negative’ emotions. Validate their feelings by explaining that you understand they are sad/angry and that you will help/play at when possible / at a certain time.
Baby older kids more
It’s common for older toddlers and children to want to get the same ‘baby’ attention their new siblings are. Be ready to give them more cuddles and expect requests for you to help them get dressed, clean their teeth etc when they’ve been capable of doing it themselves for a while.
Try to keep to their routines
I’m sure for most families this can be really tough! A new baby will disturb the natural rhythm of the house, especially when you’re out of action. Try not to feel bad about this and stick to their routines where possible.
Get them involved
Kids love to be little helpers! Welcoming a new sibling home is such a fab time to make your older child feel important by being your helpful side kick. The best tip we’ve come across it to make sure you don’t make your child feel like it’s their duty to help (that’s a lot of responsibility!) but to show just how much you love having them by your side to help love and care for the newest member of the family. Easy jobs they can help with: bringing nappies and wipes, choosing clothes, lying out blankets, finding toys, or trying to make your new baby smile!
Ramp up the praise
When you notice your older child/children being affectionate or helpful with your new baby, try to make a fuss of it with lots of praise and positive commentary. This will help your child feel loved and encourage similar behaviour!
If you find your older child is being overwhelmingly affectionate (and you’re worried they’re going to cuddle them too tight!) try to keep calm, gently remove them if necessary and then show them how to be more gentle.
Squeeze in some one-on-one
Try to squeeze in one-on-one time with your older child or children. This will help them get the full-on attention they crave and ensure they still feel special. Children don’t need much one-on-one time to refill their connection tank, so even 10 minutes a day where they have you to themselves will make a huge difference in calming any anxieties.
Distract them while you’re feeding
The first few months can include hours and hours of feeding your new baby - which can be particularly challenging if you have a toddler or young child to look after too. Many mums swear by creating busy bags or baskets full of toys, games or books that can only be used when feeding your new baby. This keeps them interesting and gives your child something new and exciting to keep occupied with.
Take a look at these fab busy bags by My Busy Bots
If you liked this blog you may also like our blog: LHW Hospital Bag Packing List
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Fresh Air Stories: Kat Brown in Kent. The first in a series of interviews talking openly about how we can get our kids outside more.