Welcoming a new baby to the family is an exciting time. There’s anticipation about when baby will arrive, who baby will look like, and what baby’s personality will be.
Perhaps you also have some reservations. How will you have enough time, energy, and love for another child? How will you introduce baby to the family in a way that affirms your oldest in her role as a big sibling.
Luckily, you can prepare older sibling for baby’s arrival before he’s born, introduce baby to your oldest in the hospital, and set yourself up for success at home with a bit of planning.
Welcoming Baby Before He Arrives
While it might sound odd, you’ll have the most success introducing your new baby well before he even arrives.
As soon as you’re ready to share the big new with family and friends, make sure you share with your child too. Tell your child how excited you are for her to become a big sibling. Discuss how baby is growing and changing.
Continue to keep talking about the new baby. Plan in strategic times to share your excitement and answer any questions your older child may have. You may want to use a pregnancy app and share each week how big baby is and what new things he can do before he’s even born.
Pregnancy is an abstract concept and can certainly be difficult for younger kids to grasp. You may want to find some books that are open-ended enough to talk about Mom being pregnant as well as life with a new baby. Our favorites are by Rachel Fuller and include books titled Waiting for Baby and My New Baby.
Involve siblings of any age while preparing baby’s nursery, clothing, or gear. Stacking diapers, folding swaddle blankets, and finding the perfect place for baby’s swing are jobs just-right for the smallest helpers.
Welcoming Baby at the Hospital
Introducing your new baby to his older siblings at the hospital is a memory-making event.
While your world has completely changed within the past hours, you may be surprised to find intense interest or even complete indifference by baby’s older sibling. Prepare for any reaction and know that however your oldest acts is just right. Older siblings will need some time to adjust to a new baby and, especially in the hospital context, there are a lot of new things to explore.
Plan ahead for your child’s visit to the hospital by picking out a special outfit for him to wear. Big sibling shirts are an easy and affordable way to gift something special for this big visit. A new shirt also doubles as a great prop for that first family photo.
While together at the hospital, try to spend a few moments snuggling your oldest child. Ask him about his day and have a conversation he is familiar with. Sometimes, in the midst of big changes, a bit of familiarity can put a child at ease.
Welcoming Baby at Home
Once you arrive home with baby the days quickly surround his needs; feedings, diapering, and baby fussiness can take a lot of time and energy.
Continue to include your oldest child as much as possible. Set up a specific area to feed baby where your oldest can also sit with you. Include books or quiet activities for your oldest to enjoy during baby’s feedings.
You may want to gift your older child with something new to enjoy during baby’s feedings. Activity books, baby dolls, and personalized books are special ways to acknowledge your child’s new role.
How will you prepare your family for baby’s impending arrival?