by: Kim Proulx
When our son was born, my daughter saw her new brother in my arms and watched as her dad glanced with love at his new son and she said, “ We should keep our family small.” That’s when we realized we should have done more to prepare our toddler for her baby brother’s arrival.
The good news is I have some suggestions for you on how to make the addition of a new sibling a time of sharing and bonding between you and your first child.
Sibling Tummy Time
As you begin to show in your pregnancy, allow your child to feel the developing baby, and let them begin a relationship early on. Encourage your little one to sing songs, tell jokes, explain the rules of the house, talk about his or her day or express whatever comes to mind.
Family Ultrasound Visit
If possible, have your little one along for an ultrasound. Imagine the excitement you’ll all feel as you see the little addition develop! The miracle of birth is a celebration for the whole family to share.
Track the Baby’s Due Date
Get a special calendar and circle the new baby’s due date. Let your toddler make an X each day as they pass. This is a good way to spend a little time each day allowing your child to talk about how they are feeling and what they are thinking about this impending change to the family structure.
Books about a New Baby
There are great children’s books written to help in this transition. (These, by the way, make an excellent baby gift at a shower for a woman with one child at home.) Make a special date and take your child to the library and read them together. Your little one will feel important, and recognize the sometimes confusing feelings are universal.
Assist with Nursery Design
Are you setting up a nursery? If so, let your child help. I suggest color selection is best left to the adults. Don’t make the same mistake I did and suffer through years of Cotton Candy Yellow in your home. If the two of them will be sharing a bedroom, make sure the older sibling has a say in how the space is arranged, and where the baby’s equipment and clothes will be arranged.
Baby Doll Roll Play
Practice with a life-sized doll. Allow your child to change and bathe the doll, and tuck it into the crib. Explain this is what you’ll be doing when the new baby comes home. This is also a good opportunity to discuss how babies are totally dependent on others for their care, how time-consuming this is, and how big a help an older brother or sister can be!
Early Sibling Schedule Changes
If you’re planning a change of schedule when baby comes (day care, more time with Grandma, preschool, etc.) begin that BEFORE the baby’s arrival. This will allow the adjustment to be made before the Big Event. Your child won’t feel as if he or she is being shoved aside by the arrival of the baby.
Gift for the New Baby
The arrival of a new little one is often an occasion for a baby gift. It’s fun to go on a shopping trip to pick out a baby gift for the new brother or sister that is just from your older child. Make a play time out of wrapping it.
Gift for Big Brother or Sister
And as long as we are talking about a baby gift, make sure you pick out something wonderful and absorbing for your older child in celebration of the new role of Big Brother or Big Sister. Give it to them right before the baby comes, and it does double duty as a way to entertain during those first days when Baby is so time-consuming.
You have no doubt noted the recurring theme in these suggestions: Communication. Siblings feel many emotions as they prepare for an addition to the family. These may include excitement, fear, jealousy, uncertainty and anxiety. By introducing the concept early on, discussing it whenever possible, engaging the older sibling in the preparation and celebrating not only the baby but also the Older Sibling status, you go a long way to promoting positive feelings and attitudes conducive to a lifetime of love and loyalty among your children.
About The Author
Kim Proulx knows lots about kids, parenting and strengthening the family bond. As a Certified Parent Coach she vows that surrounding your baby in a safe and comfortable environment is the first step in creating a happy family. It’s also important to prepare an older sibling for the new baby’s arrival. Getting a fun educational toy at http://www.babydirect.com/c-63-toys.aspx for your toddler can help. There’s a great selection of kid’s toys at BabyDirect.com.