Tips for Big Brother & New Baby
Tips for Big Brother/Sister & New Baby: How to handle adding a new baby to the family
Ah! Becoming a big brother/sister and adding a new baby is a very exciting time for you and your family, but it can also be extremely stressful. You are tired and uncomfortable, and your older child may be noticing the change and shifting already. The last thing you want to do is add more to your plate. I hear you! I have been there. But I will say, it’s all in the prep and attitude. When it comes to transitions, changes, and additions, prepping your child early on and keeping an excited and upbeat attitude will make ALL the differences when bringing home baby. Below I lay out some essential tips for adding a new baby & a sibling!
How to approach adding a sibling with your older child(ren)
First off, wait until you are fully in the clear to tell your child about their new sibling. When you have been given the green light from your doctor, probably somewhere between 12-20 weeks, you can let your older child in on the exciting news. When you tell your child for the first time, make it special and time it right. Don’t do it if your child is in a bad mood, if they are sick, or if they have just recently experienced change. But you don’t need to overthink it, stars do not need to be aligned, just make sure they are happy to receive special news. One example of a fun and special way to tell your child could be to take them out for a treat. Ice cream is always on the top of the list in our house. Once you guys are sitting down with your treat, have a conversation, something like this; “do you know why I took you to get ice cream today? Because something super exciting is going to happen…you are going to be a big brother/sister! Inside my belly is a teeny, tiny, baby and every day it’s going to get bigger and bigger, and my belly will get bigger and bigger, until one day it’s so big, the baby will be ready to come out! When the baby comes out, you will be a big brother/sister! It’s a very special and important job and you are going to be great at it!”
How to continue to prep your older child with new baby:
When you are teaching your child something new, relate to their world and use various teaching modalities. Here are some great ways to help even the youngest child understand what is happening and how your family dynamic will change;
1. Show them pictures of you when you were pregnant with them.
2. Show them various stages of pregnancy and how big your belly got with them.
3. Show them their ultrasound pictures
4. Show them pictures of the day they were born and how tiny they were.
5. Show them baby pictures of them over the first year to see how a tiny baby grows over time.
Talk about it!
1. Throughout casual conversations, talk about how they will be getting a playmate and best friend; someone to always be around them.
2. When you are out and about and you see a similar family dynamic that will soon be yours, point it out and show them. Talk about it. “Look! They have a baby. That little boy is a big brother, just like you will be. See how he is helping?”
3. Rent books at the library that are about becoming a big brother/sister
4. Watch shows about becoming a big brother/sister; or if you are watching a regular movie or show and you see a family with a baby, talk about it and show them how this will happen in their own family.
Talking to them about a new baby, organically, throughout your pregnancy will help to familiarize them with change.
1. Take them to your doctor’s appointments and make it something special you guys do together, maybe always listen to their favorite CD on the way or stop for a treat on the way home.
2. Sign them up for sibling prep classes at the hospital you will be delivering at. If they do not have one, take them on a tour of the hospital so they can see it beforehand.
3. Include them in prepping the house and room, taking the things out of the garage, cleaning them off, putting them together, setting up the diaper changer, the swing, bassinet, etc.
4. Let them play with the baby gear and get used to it. Encourage them to put their baby doll in the crib or the swing.
By including them in the process, you are having them be apart of the change, rather than them experiencing it from the outside. One fun way we involved our daughter in the prep was involving her in the gender reveal. My husband revealed the gender to me by blindfolding me and having our daughter paint my white shirt in the gender reveal color. She had a blast being apart of the moment rather than just watching it.
Keep it positive!
It is so important to keep the vibe positive. Kids feed off of us. If we are excited and show them how exciting this new change will be, then they too will be excited. For example, “being a big brother/sister is so exciting because you get to be the teacher and the helper. You are such a great helper. You help me all the time. I can’t wait till you get to be a big brother/sister. “
Once the baby comes:
When the baby finally arrives, and your older child goes to the hospital to meet him/her make it special. Allow them to hold the baby, hug the baby, sing the baby songs, or read them a story. Have a special gift for them for becoming a big brother/sister. Have a special crown or sash for them to wear that says big brother/sister. Make this moment a big deal for them and make sure to give them lots of love!
During the first month:
During the first month home with baby, keep your older child busy, but remain consistent with schedule. Their world is being disrupted, so it is very important to keep things as normal as possible. A good way to keep your older child busy and occupied is accepting help from friends and family. Have play dates. Maybe purchase an annual pass to a local museum or zoo and have your husband or mom take them frequently. If they are currently in school, make sure to remind teachers there is a lot of change that is occurring at home and to be sensitive to that change. It is also very important for them to get special alone time with just mom. Maybe a walk around the block or time away in another room to read a story. They need to get that ongoing bonding time with mom several times a day, even if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes. If you notice your little one is having trouble adjusting, be understanding and know it will pass. Give them the time they need to adjust to this huge change in their life. Make sure not to add another change too close before or after welcoming baby. Change such as weaning a paci, or changing to a big kid bed. Your child can only successfully handle 1 big thing at a time. Space all change at least 1 month apart and be sensitive to their adjustment process.
Lastly, keep them involved. Include them in on decisions regarding baby and have them help as much as possible. Make them apart of the new daily routine with baby and give them the responsibility of being the big brother/sister. For example, while you are nursing baby, ask big brother/sister to get the diaper changing supplies, or ask them to sign a song to help keep baby calm. During the burping, have them help pat the baby on the back. While you change baby’s diaper, let them hand you wipes, or ask them to hold the diaper. Let them help you with turning on music or the swing. Let them help with feeding baby or wiping their mouth. There is so many age appropriate tasks to give young children so they feel apart of the change and feel as though they have an important job.
Book recommendations on becoming a big brother/sister: