Children grow up so fast, and there are changes each step of the way. If you’ve recently found out you’re pregnant, you may be wondering how to prepare your child or children for a new arrival. Use these ideas and you may find your child actually looking forward to their new brother or sister.
It’s common for older children to feel jealous when they’re told about a new sibling. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. There is much you can do to help them feel less jealous and more eager to be the older sibling. Here are some suggestions:
1. Involve your older child in as much of the pregnancy as you can. Tell them as soon as you and your partner feel comfortable and make it a joyous occasion for them. Have a special “I’m going to be a big brother or sister” dinner for them.
2. Look through the family’s baby pictures. Start with yours and your partner’s, and then look through each child’s baby pictures. Ask them who they think they looked like. Then ask them who they think the new baby will look like the most.
3. Buy them a t-shirt that says “I’m a big brother” or “I’m a big sister.” Explain to them you’ll need their help when the new baby comes. Tell them you know they’ll be a great sibling.
4. Ask them for their ideas for baby names. Be prepared, however, because they may want to name the baby after their favorite toy, pet, or television character!
5. Take time as a family to read books about becoming an older brother or sister. Give them an opportunity to tell you how they feel about a new brother or sister. Are they afraid you won’t love them anymore? Are they afraid you won’t have time for them? Be sure to let them know you’ll never stop loving them.
6. Take them to the doctor with you. Ask the nurse to allow your child to be in the room while they listen to the baby’s heartbeat or during a non-vaginal ultrasound.
7. Try to find a class for siblings. Some hospitals offer these classes to teach new brothers and sisters how to properly hold and care for a baby. Classes will also give them a non-threatening avenue to discuss their feelings about their new sibling.
8. Expose your child to other babies. If you have friends with babies, be sure to visit so your child can see how to hold a baby, talk to them, and how careful they’ll need to be around them.
9. When you bring the baby home, be sure to ask for help from your child. This will give them a sense of being important to the baby and to you. Ask them to get diapers, wipes, or clean clothes for the baby while you bathe or change it. If you’re bottle feeding, show them how to hold the bottle so they can help feed the baby.
10. If you’re breastfeeding, your older child obviously can’t help with feeding. However, you can have special toys for them to play with while they’re in the room with you and the baby during feeding time. This will allow you to spend time with them and take care of the baby’s needs.
You may find that using some of these ideas on how to prepare your child for a new arrival makes the transition easier. While these ideas won’t guarantee your child won’t have feelings of jealousy, they might help you help them accept the baby quicker.