Bringing you new baby home can be a first for everyone. It may be the first time you have a baby boy or girl and it's also the first time your older child is a big brother or sister.
Preparing older siblings for the arrival of the new baby:
- While pregnant, talk to them often about the coming baby and get them excited about becoming a big sister or brother.
- After giving birth, involve them in caring for the baby. Ask them to bring you a nappy or to help to choose the baby's outfit for the day.
- When visitors come to see the baby, let your child be the one to introduce their new baby sister or brother.
- If the new baby is getting lots of gifts, it might be helpful to have some gifts for the older child, perhaps even from the new baby.
- Safety first, it's important to note that siblings under 5 years of age shouldn't be left alone with the baby.
Older siblings are like built-in playgroups, but good sibling relationships don't happen overnight. It's not unusual for the older sister or brother to become jealous of a new baby and they may even revert to baby behaviour as a way to get attention.
It can be a challenge for your older child to adjust to their new role. They have to learn to share everything – their space, their toys and, most especially, you.
Here are a few tips to help your older child bond with their younger sibling:
- Assign her small tasks to help care for your newborn. Newborns can take a lot of your attention so involving her allows you to spend time with both your babies and let them get to know each other.
- Encourage her questions. It's likely that she's curious about what's happening and why. Use this opportunity to teach them what to expect so they understand that their newborn sibling needs lots of sleep and is still learning to interact with them so they need to be patient.
- Turn sharing and other positive behaviours into games.
- Save some quality 'us' time every day. This reassures him that you love him just as much and that you value the time you spend together.