The arrival of a new baby to the family is a source of great happiness, but also new challenges. In general, parents feel very excited but also nervous about the reaction of their children to the presence of a new sibling.
All sorts of questions arise. How should we tell our children they’re going to have a little brother or sister? Will they become jealous of the new baby? How can we help them accept this situation?
Today we want to share with you a series of suggestions on how to prepare your children, according to their age.
How to prepare your children for the arrival of a new baby
Ages 1 and 2
Don’t demand a great deal of understanding from your little ones. At this age, they won’t comprehend what it means to have a new sibling.
Let your children hear you talking about the new baby. They might not understand why you’re so excited, but your attitude will be contagious. This will help get your kids excited.
Keep in mind that you probably won’t be able to simultaneously satisfy the needs of two or more children all the time. If you feel overwhelmed, look for support and an extra pair of arms among friends and family.
When the new baby arrives, don’t forget about the older siblings. To reduce feelings of jealousy, you can give older siblings a small gift from their little brother or sister.
Don’t forget to hug them, listen to them, and spend time with them to remind them of your unending love.
Ages 2 to 4
At this age, children tend to be very attached to their parents and have a hard time sharing with other family members.
Your little one may be very sensitive to the coming change and interpret the arrival of a new family member as a threat. Wait a bit to talk to your pre-school aged child about the baby on the way.
Speak with your little one when you start purchasing new baby items like furniture, clothes, etc. If your toddler starts to ask about your growing belly, that’s also a good time to share the news.
Look for illustrated children’s books that will help your child understand. Whatever the case, make a point to talk to your child about the new baby before anyone else does.
Set aside special time for your older children whenever you can. As you enjoy this time together, you can read, play, listen to music, or just talk.
Don’t overwhelm your little one with additional changes
Be careful when planning other major changes in your 2 to 4-year-old’s life. If you’re planning to potty train your toddler, try to do so well before the baby’s arrival. The same is true if you need your little one to switch from a crib to a bed or move to a new bedroom.
If this isn’t possible, then you should wait to attempt these changes until things settle down after your baby’s birth. Otherwise, your toddler may become overwhelmed by too many adjustments.
It’s normal for children this age to experience minor developmental setbacks after the arrival of a new sibling. For example, your little one might start having accidents even though he or she is potty trained.
Your toddler might also start asking to drink from a bottle. These and other behaviors are normal and you should react with love and patience. It’s your child’s way of seeking love and attention during this unfamiliar stage.
Set aside special time for your child whenever you can. As you enjoy this time together, you can read, play, listen to music, or just talk. Involve your little one in preparing and planning for the baby’s arrival, and bring him along when you go out shopping.
Older siblings need to know they’re still important to you and that they won’t lose you to the new baby.
Children ages 5 years and older
School aged children don’t feel quite as threatened by the arrival of a new sibling as do toddlers. However, they may still feel jealous of all the attention the newborn receives.
If that’s the case, explain what’s going on using language that your child can comprehend. Talk about what it means to have a new baby in the house and the changes that this implies. Talk about both the positive aspects and the not so positive.
If possible, allow your child to go to the hospital to visit you and meet the new addition after the baby is born. This will help your older child feel like part of the growing family.
Introduce her to her new sibling and talk to her about the importance of being an older sister. Make her feel big.
Don’t forget about the needs and activities of your older children. Remind them of how much you love them.
Make an effort to spend time alone with them every day. Use that time to take the opportunity to remind them of how special they are to you.