Having a new baby in the family is exciting, emotional, and scary all at the same time. If you have a soon-to-be older sibling, you might be a little nervous about how they will react to having a new baby in the home. Let’s talk about some tips when helping older siblings cope with the new baby.
When you first find out
Depending on your older child’s age, the best thing to do once you find out that you’re expecting, is to include them in on the big news! This may seem like an obvious action to take, but sometimes our emotions can get the best of us in the midst of the news and it can distract us from letting our children in on what’s going on.
This is the perfect time to set the tone for your child, and get them excited for their new sibling!
I’m sure you’ve heard of baby announcements, where people announce their excitement for the ‘coming-soon’ bundle of joy with a photo or party of some sort. Well, why not do something special for your little one and announce the new baby in a creative way?
There are a bunch of creative ways to do this, here are a couple to help you figure out how you want to tell them about their new sibling:
- Show the sonogram picture in a gift box
- Balloon pop game: Pop all balloons and leave a note inside one balloon that says they are going to be an older sibling
- “Im going to be a big sister/brother” Tee-shirt
- Surprise balloon box: Put 2-3 floating balloons in a sealed box, with a note attached that says they are going to be a big brother/sister
- Scavenger hunt: Lead them to each part of the house with a note, and have a piece of paper at each part of the house with one letter that will spell out B-A-B-Y
My personal favorite is the letter scramble! This is great for the older siblings, but can also be done with younger siblings with the help of a parent. Here is how I did it:
- List out 2 easy questions with short answers (What month is your birthday? Favorite place to play?)
- Write the 3rd question similar to “Who is going to be a big sister/brother?” “What will make our family of 3 into a family of 4?”
- Write out the answer and cut out each letter
- Give them the sheet of questions and the cutouts. Watch their reaction when they get to the last question, it’ll be a reaction that you don’t want to miss on camera!
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As the baby grows in your tummy
The most exciting part of the pregnancy journey is to see your tummy grow, it is not only exciting for you but for your little one too! Showing your belly growth and having visual comparisons to show how big their new sibling is, is a great way in helping older siblings cope with the new baby. It gets them excited and engaged every week in the pregnancy and builds the anticipation for the big day.
Let your child come with you to doctor appointments, hear the baby’s heart beat, see the ultrasounds, feel the baby kicks, and know how their little sibling is doing in that tummy of yours. Kids love to feel like they’re a big part of the process, this will help accomplish that!
Tell them what to expect
Most of the time, children act out because they are either confused about what they should or shouldn’t be dong, or they haven’t been included and talked to about plans. it is important to, at any age, explain what they can expect to happen and what is expected of them when the time comes. This will help aid any confusion if ever a meltdown occurs or tensions rise.
Letting your child in on what to expect when their new sibling comes will set the new relationship up for success. Things to make sure to touch on are:
- Mommy will sometimes need to give the baby a little more attention
- We need to be gentle with baby
- Baby will sometimes be loud and cry
- Baby won’t be able to play like the big kids yet
- If breastfeeding, tell them how the baby will be eating
When baby is here
You’ll learn soon enough that even after the baby comes, you will still be practicing ways that will contribute to helping older siblings cope with the new baby.
Talk about them
Children love to hear people say good things to them and about them! Have you ever noticed how your child tends to ‘show off’ whenever you talk ear-shot to a friend or family member about how great your child is at XZY? They love hearing compliments, and really who doesn’t?
Anytime you get the chance to be ear-shot to your older child while holding the baby, make it a point to let your child “overhear” you talking to the baby about them. You can say things like:
- “Wow, you are so lucky to have such a great older sister/brother!”
- “One day you will be so responsible/creative/polite like your older sister/brother”
- “Do you know how much your older sister/brother loves you?”
- “Soon, you’ll be big and tall like your bother/sister”
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Let them help
Remember how we talked about making them feel included? Make sure to let them feel like an older sibling by entrusting them with little tasks that will make them feel helpful, important and needed.
These tasks do not have to be big, just enough to make them feel like they’re doing their part with helping take care of the baby. Here are some ideas:
- Shake the bottle of formula
- Wipe baby’s butt
- Throw away diaper
- Hum baby to sleep
- Kiss baby when they are crying
- Make baby laugh
- Wipe baby in bath
Helping older siblings cope with the new baby will be easy, as long as they know what to expect, know that mommy and daddy will always love them, and that they know that their new sibling will be their new best friend.
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