Make introducing a new arrival to your children stress-free with our simple guide
While the arrival of a new baby is an exciting time, it can also be an anxious experience for toddlers or even older children. Accustomed to being the centre of attention in the household, the prospect of having to share attention, toys and your time can cause your little one to feel uneasy. For school-aged children there may be concern and fear over what is happening to mummy. Here are our favourite ways to smooth this sometimes challenging transition.
Preparation is key however break the news too soon and you may hear ‘Is the baby coming today?’ every day for months. We suggest holding off until you have a visible bump to help explain to your little one what’s happening. While you may not wish to wait, here are a few more ideas to help you positively encourage the anticipation of a new sibling…
Step 1: Involve them in the lead up to your birth by reading books (our favourite is ‘My New Baby’) and stories about how small they once were.
Step 2: Children love to see photos of themselves as a baby. Opening up photo albums of when they were born can be a lovely way of introducing the idea of another little arrival.
Step 3: Invite them to touch your tummy when you feel your baby kick. You can explain that the baby is kicking to say hello to them.
Step 4: Sort out their toys. Create a ‘special’ toy box, full of toys which will be out of bounds for the new baby. This will give them a sense of special privilege as the older child.
Nine long (or super-speedy) months later, your newest little one will make their debut. Take the time to bask in those first few precious hours alone with your newborn before thinking of arranging a visit from your child/children to visit their new sibling. When they do arrive to see you you, here are some suggestions…
Step 1: Arrange a visit as soon as you feel comfortable and preferably when you’re not nursing. Have open arms, lots of love, hugs and kisses – it’s your attention they want. We recommend not holding the baby, rather have your newborn by your bedside in a Moses basket or crib, so that the first thing your child sees is you.
Step 2: Stock up on little presents. The newborn will be receiving lots of gifts and attention, which can be a challenging and confusing time for your other children. A few small presents can help soothe tension. You may also like to give them a present ‘from’ their new brother/sister.
Step 3: Praise them for being a great older sibling in front of guests and visitors. This also works when you’re at home alone, for example: ‘You’re so good at painting, when the baby is old enough you can teach him to paint, too!’
Step 4: Involve them in the newborn’s routine. This will allow them to become a caretaker and not see the baby as a rival. Invite them to touch the baby gently and, if old enough, allow them to hold the baby under supervision. Activities such as helping with bath time and reading stories together can speed up bonding.
Words by Kate Curran
Main image by Erica Schneider (Acres of Hope Photography)