The cooing and sweet smiles can bring warmth to a family. However, for as much good and love that an expecting family will experience, a great deal of change will also occur. This change can bring learning opportunities, as well as a few growing pains, especially where other children are concerned.
Children who are about to have a new sibling will feel this change acutely. Make the transition into brother or sisterhood easier by following these few tips to make your first born feel special after the baby:
- Bring a gift to the hospital for them.
The hospital can be really overwhelming for siblings, especially considering Mom will be holding someone other than them. As everyone will be fussing over the new baby, fuss over the oldest a little, too. That way, she or he knows that being a big sister or brother is something to celebrate.
If you have a daughter, consider a necklace in the color of their birthstone with a note containing the story of how they were born. It’ll be a treasured piece for a lifetime. If you have a son, consider something of similar value and longevity.
Something simple, like a cute tee with their new title, can also help them feel a surge of pride for this new member of their family.
- Use inclusive language.
From day one, use language like “our” baby, “your” brother, etc., when speaking to both the oldest sibling and the new baby. This inclusive and possessive language will give the older sibling a sense of belonging and place in his or her new environment, and it may even help the two children bond a little more.
You can also try saying things to the new baby like, “Look how much you look like your big sister,” or, “Your big brother used to eat his toes, too.” Something as simple as speaking phrases like these within hearing distance of the oldest will reassure him or her that Mommy remembers those special moments with them, too.
- Teach them to help with their sibling.
Sometimes a new baby can make the oldest feel a little excluded since much attention must be devoted to the new addition. Help your oldest feel as though they are truly part of the team by giving them small jobs here and there to assist you with the baby. Handing you a clean diaper or giving the baby a pacifier can be a good place to start. Be sure to always thank them for their efforts.
- Set aside time together.
Time is important, and with the busyness that comes with two children, it can be hard to find enough to give them both what they need. The best thing to do in this scenario is to go ahead and schedule that “date-night” time. Leave the youngest with a spouse, family member or close friend and get out of the house for an hour or two with the oldest.
When deciding what to do or where to go, try giving your child a few choices of what the two of you could do together, and stick to whatever they pick. Choices give them a little more control over their situation, which can be very helpful at a time when everything is changing.
It may seem a little overwhelming to find ideas for activities, but remember, it doesn’t have to be complicated. From grocery shopping to a picnic in the park, the possibilities to connect with your oldest are endless.
- Adhere to your oldest child’s bedtime routine.
This can be a difficult one, considering the unpredictable nature of having a baby. However, sticking to a routine can put things back in some sort of order for kids. Start by having your oldest get ready for bed at the same time each night. This should be done prior to the baby’s arrival, if you haven’t already established it.
Once a bedtime routine has been set, stick to it after the baby is born. If, for example, during that time you read stories together or sang a song or said a prayer, keep doing that with them — regardless of whether or not you have another little one in your arms.
A new baby can be exciting and fun, but it can also be a big adjustment for the younger members of your family. Help your first born feel special — still — by trying out a few of these ideas.