The arrival of a new sibling can result in mixed feelings for your existing children. They may feel happy and excited about having a new family member and someone they will be able to play with. However, they may also feel a bit confused or even jealous.
Younger children often feel confused due to uncertainty about what things will be like for them after the new baby is born.
They also may not grasp the concept of time. So when you talk to them about the impending birth of a new sibling they may not understand how far in the future this date really is.
And when a child doesn’t fully understand the impact the new baby will have on themselves and the family routine, they might even express no interest in the baby.
Don’t worry or try to force the issue. They just need some more time.
Things to do BEFORE the baby is born
Talk to your child and prepare them for the upcoming changes. Be clear, direct, and realistic when answering their questions.
Increase their excitement about the baby by getting them involved in:
- Doctor’s appointments
- Helping to choose a name for the baby
- Preparing the baby’s room
- Packing your (and baby’s) bag for the hospital
- Choosing and getting things for the baby (e.g. clothes, toys, etc.)
As the birth approaches:
- Keep routines as regular as possible and avoid any big changes, such as a room or school change.
- Keep track of your due date in a wall calendar and make your child responsible for crossing off the days as they go by.
- Spend as much time as possible with your child.
Things to do AFTER the baby is born
- As much as possible, let your kids help take care of the baby. This will give them the opportunity to interact and bond with their new sibling.
- Children love to feel proud. Give them a job to be responsible for – e.g. assisting parents during diaper change or when bathing the baby.
- Get a special gift for each child, and let them exchange these gifts as a special welcoming present.
- Take advantage of opportunities for you to spend one-on-one time with your older child. Let them choose a game or activity and follow their lead.
- Encourage your older child to express their feelings. They can talk about this, make up a story, or make a picture and use it to communicate what they are feeling.
- Ask friends and family to spend time with your older child where they can feel special – e.g. doing things they like to do and talking about them, not about the baby.
If you have a baby on the way and would like some help to smooth the path for your other children, you might like to book an appointment with us (we can arrange a Skype session if you don’t live in Melbourne).