You have got the news about your second child. Congratulations! Your heart might be racing, thinking of all the preparations, people to call, and baby products to buy. But among all that excitement, certain thoughts pick on you at the back of your mind. How do I break this news to my older child? How will they take it? Will there be sibling rivalry in the long run? Don’t fret. We’ve got you covered! Keep reading our article on tips to prepare your older child for a new baby to know more.
Children Will React Differently Based On Their Age
To better prepare your older child, you should know what to expect when they’re in a certain age group.
Ages 1 To 2 Years (Toddlers)
Children in this age group will not have a feeling of what it means to be an elder sibling. When you break the news to them, they might even just stare at you and look dreamingly. But, don’t discourage yourself from explaining your emotions to your older child about the new arrival. They might not understand what you’re saying but they’ll certainly feel your energy and excitement. And some of that will rub off on your older child as well.
- Show your toddler a couple of old albums or photos with them in it. Make them sit beside you and show that they were once a baby too. Also, this could be the opportunity to familiarize them with words such as “brother”, “sister”, and “new baby”.
- Don’t neglect your older child once you have your new baby at home. There’s a tendency to direct all of your attention to the newborn, often making the older child feel sidetracked. What you want is to strike that balance. Take them on outings, do something special for them, give them gifts, take them to movies – do anything that’ll make them feel special and loved.
Just a heads-up: certainly, you won’t be able to dedicate all your time and attention to both your children. Without a doubt, you will need people to help you. Have relatives, or close friends around you and share your workload with your spouse.
Ages 2 To 4 Years (Preschoolers)
This is the age where the child is still very attached to the parents. They might feel a bit threatened on the arrival of a new member since they don’t know just yet how to share their parent’s bond with the newborn. That’s why you should break the news to them in the most lenient and caring manner. Here are some tips that’ll help to ease that process:
- As soon as you get the news that you’re expecting another child, don’t break the information to your preschooler right away. Take some time and drop subtle hints to your older child about the new arrival. When they notice the new baby furniture, clothes, or the growing bump, they will most likely ask you questions. And that’s the time you can gently explain the news that they’re going to be an elder sibling. However, do try and share the news before they get to know from some other source.
- You might’ve heard that “honesty is the best policy” and there’s no better time to implement that saying than now. Be honest with your older child. Tell them that their brother/sister is going to be cute and cuddly but expect ample amounts of crying as well. Also, tell them that their new sibling is still delicate and will take a while before they can start playing together.
- Actively involve your older child in the planning process. Take them along with you while you’re shopping for new baby toys, furniture, and even ask their opinions on it. “Do you think your baby sister/brother will like this?” Ask subjective questions like that. This will make the older child feel included and part of the family. Also, if you do that, the chances of your older one developing any kind of resentment or jealousy towards the newborn get cut to a huge extent.
- Also, ensure that your preschooler is potty trained, and the shift from the crib to the bed is made. If not, then pause those activities for a while till the new baby settles down in your home. Your older child might feel a bit overwhelmed learning new things while adapting to the new changes brought by the infant.
- It’s totally normal for your older child to regress a bit. Your toilet-trained child could have bed-wetting accidents or might insist on being bottle-fed. This is a way of your older child trying to make sure that they still get that affection and attention. Instead of going the traditional route of scolding, give them a couple of extra hugs. Give in to the attention they seek. And reward them when they act mature.
- Last and not least, do things with your older child once you’ve finished nursing the new baby. Read books, play games, dance to their favorite music, or you could simply have a nice playful chat. In this way, you make them feel more loved and cared for.
Ages 5 And Above (School Going Children)
Children in this age group are a bit more mature and they’re usually unbothered with the new arrival. However, the attention the newborn gets might make your older child feel secluded. To ensure that doesn’t happen:
- Ask your older child to help in preparing the new baby’s room, or buying new clothes. Make them as actively involved as possible. After the baby’s birth, try to see that your older child gets the opportunity to see their newborn sibling. It’ll make them feel included in this growing family.
Preparing your older child for a new baby requires a bit of conscious practice. It can get tricky at times, but you can always bank on your close friends, relatives, and spouse to support and help you out. Our tips to prepare your older child for a new baby will surely come in handy when you’re looking for direction, so save this article on your smartphone to access it easily. If you need help with your newborn with vaccination dates, you can download the ImmunifyMe app. You can store your baby’s health records, and prescriptions digitally, thus saving amounts of paper. You can get on one-on-one calls with pediatricians virtually as well.
FAQs On Tips To Prepare Your Older Child For A New Baby
How Do I Prepare My Older Child For A New Baby?
Have a chat with your older child about the arrival of the new sibling in age-appropriate language. Include your older child in setting up the nursery, or while shopping for baby products so that they feel included and loved.
How Do I Help My 4 Year Old With A New Baby?
You can help prepare your 4-year old for a new baby by:
- Acknowledging feelings
- Spending quality time
- Addressing regression
- Getting them involved in the planning process
How Does The Birth Of A Sibling Affect A Child Emotionally?
Many children might feel secluded or left out when their new sibling is born. This can lead to regressive behavior such as bedwetting, or resorting to bottle-feeding to gain the parent’s attention. These tantrums can be easily countered by addressing them at the earliest and dedicating more time to the older child.