Preparing Older Children for a New Baby

Introducing a new baby to a family especially with a toddler or two can be tough going on everyone. The following tips may help everyone adjust a little more smoothly.

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Once the news is out that there will be a new baby later it’s a good idea to chat to your children about this so they are aware of what the exciting news is all about. Talk about the baby as “our baby” during pregnancy so it gives little ones a sense of them being included in the excitement. Toddlers maybe interested in your growing tummy so you might like to show them books about pregnancy and visit the library to find some children’s stories about new babies. Another nice idea is to show them their baby photos and talk about when they were a baby. The age of your child/ren will determine how much detail and information you give them regarding the pregnancy and what to expect.

Think about upcoming changes in your child’s  life and plan to make those changes well before baby arrives if possible for example; shifting bedrooms, toilet training, moving from a cot to a bed etc. You may be looking to introduce or change child care arrangements? Bring these into effect before baby is due if possible to ensure he/she is settled, secure and happy.

Children love to be involved in decision making. Now you may not want them to name the baby! But choosing some clothes, bedroom items or a special toy is an important job for big brother or sister to have. Chat about how the baby is looking forward to becoming “your little sister” and what they can help do with the baby. You may like to take them to your scan and show them scan photos. Make note of people in the community that have new siblings or expecting them and take your child to meet the baby and sibling. It’s great for your child to see that other families have new babies too.

Try and spend some quality time with your children before baby arrives and choose activities that you can be involved in even when you’re really tired. Stories, board and card games are great! Sometimes getting a baby doll for your child can work well. Talk about what baby does and needs.

Baby has arrived! Focus on the older children when they first visit and meet baby. Try to keep routines the same as much as possible. Spend some close time with babies’ siblings each day, a story, cuddles and talk. If they are upset or angry, talk about their feelings but be firm about always being gentle towards the baby. Have something planned for them to do while you’re focussed on baby. Help them to hold and interact with baby and take photos of them with the baby. Tell them stories about when they were that age. If they want to help give them useful things to do like choosing babies clothes for the day but if they aren't interested don’t worry.

It’s important for children to feel included and responsible. Any ill feeling towards baby will pass as they get used to the new addition and their understanding develops.