Welcoming a new baby into the family is exciting but extremely overwhelming. Even though you have gone through this before, everything will feel like you are doing it for the first time. You have created your little family unit and got used to your routine, and now you need to adjust to a new member. Regardless of how cute that new family member is, this will still be stressful for everyone, especially your firstborn child.
Your firstborn has been the centre of your life for a while now, and suddenly they need to share all that attention. Luckily, this doesn’t have to be as stressful as expected, as you can ensure this goes as painlessly as possible. Help your child prepare for the new baby’s arrival by utilizing the following five tips:
Talk to your firstborn about the new baby
It is never too early to start. We tried to make a baby part of her reality from the moment we told her we were expecting. They may have many questions, some of which you will find repetitive or hard to answer. Do your best to answer any questions even if you have to look up the answers. Explain what they can expect during the pregnancy and when the baby arrives. I’ve installed a pregnancy tracking application on my phone to show Emily how the baby is progressing. She couldn’t wait to check how big the baby is getting compared with vegetables or fruits. Immediately she would call the grandparents to tell them the baby was now as big as an apple or corn.
Include your child in baby preparations
Preparing for a new baby will involve a lot of shopping, which honestly can be really stressful. I usually get in my head and can’t decide on a product. At any given time, I have at least ten different tabs open with the same product but from other brands or in different colours, and I still can’t force myself to decide. Reduce your stress and involve your child by letting them choose. Choice can be between your two top picks to ensure you like what they choose. This will make them feel like an important part of the process, and it will be much faster than if you decide by yourself. We let our daughter choose a baby bath, changing mat, bedding, pacifiers, bottles, clothes and toys. We did end up with many dinosaur-themed blue sleepsuits, but the baby girls still looks adorable.
Excite them about becoming a big sibling
Talk to them about how amazing it will be to have a sibling, someone to play and share the love or problems with. It would help if you also got books about becoming a big sibling and read them with your child. We have borrowed a few different ones from the library. This will help them understand what they can expect when the baby finally arrives. We constantly talked about how much will baby love her, encouraged her to speak or sing to the belly and even pretended to be a baby and speak to hear. The look of excitement and pure happiness on her face the first time the baby moved while she was singing to the bump was priceless. The baby still smiles whenever she hears her big sister sing.
Let your child help with baby care
Once the baby arrives, include your child with everyday tasks. From throwing away the diapers, bathing the baby, or even choosing the outfit for the day, just include them. This makes them feel included and important, like a grown-up sibling they are. We included our daughter in everything she showed an interest in, from opening the bottle of Bio-Oil I used on my stomach to prevent stretch marks or checking the bath water temperature to picking out the baby’s outfits. She even helped change a few diapers as successfully as a 4-year-old can.
Spend quality time with your child
It’s important to make sure your firstborn child doesn’t feel left out or, even worse, forgotten. They were the centre of your attention and suddenly they need to make space for someone new. This would be hard for anyone, let alone for little ones still learning to regulate their feelings. Make sure to spend quality one-on-one time with them. Do things they want to do while giving them your much-needed attention. We did little dates with our toddler to ensure she knows she is still our priority. We either find some activity to do together, such as an indoor playground, museum, or even visit the local swimming pool. I even created little scavenger hunt cards. We use them during walks with her little sister so she doesn’t feel excluded.
By following these five ways to prepare your child for the new baby, you can help your firstborn child not to feel excluded or frightened by the arrival of the new baby. If you play your cards right, they might end up feeling as excited as you and create a great bond with your newest family member.