The world revolves around your first child and rightfully so. They receive all your attention and they are completely happy with the way things are until the day comes that they have to share everything with a sibling. It is important to take their feelings into account when such a big change to their world (which is only so big) is about to drastically change. Older children may adapt easier than toddlers but at any stage, it is equally important to ensure your child feels involved in the process. Many times children are not welcoming of new babies because they feel as though they are being replaced and feelings of jealousy set in. Making efforts throughout the pregnancy will make the introduction of baby number two that much easier.
Preparation Tips - Introducing Baby #1 to Baby #2
There can be a lot of anxiety and unknown when mom and dad bring home their second bundle of joy. Learn helpful tips that can help ease your first child's worries.
Imagine the world from your child’s eyes. They are the only person that gets all of their parents’ attention. They don’t have to share their toys, their food or their special time with mommy and daddy. But now all of that is about to change. There will be a new baby coming home in about nine months and now the world as your first child knows it, is about to change. Some children adapt just fine while others struggle for the first couple of years. I’ve learned that incorporating your child into the process helps with the adjustment of adding a new baby into the family.
Each child is different so this can vary depending on how your child receives information. When you first learn of your pregnancy and are ready to introduce the news to your child, you could take the child to dinner or a special place they enjoy. If they like books, read them a special story and then have open dialogue about their feelings of adding to your family. Some kids may welcome this with enthusiasm which is half the battle while others may experience mixed emotions.
When you talk about the new baby, avoid saying “mommy and daddy are having a baby” and reposition this as “we” are having a new baby. Let your child feel like they are part of this new big decision and the baby is also theirs. After all, the baby is their sibling and them feeling like they are a part of this process and decision is key to their mentality when welcoming baby number two into their world.
At first, the baby’s gender is a mystery and referring to the baby as ‘it’ is not a good idea! Allow your child to help pick a cute nickname (peanut, sweat pea etc…) to call the baby. This will give them a sense of pride every time this name is used. It also tells a great story when your kids get older in how their first nickname started.
Some additional ways to integrate your first child into the pregnancy process:
- If the child is old enough to read, let them read their favorite book to the baby in your tummy. Tell them the baby will get to know their voice.
- If the child is not old enough to read, they can sing a song or make up a story.
- If mommy is on a special diet or is taking vitamins, ask your child to be your special helper. They can offer you reminders of when you need to take your vitamins or they can help get you the food you need. This makes them feel like they are helping to care for and nurture their sibling. This makes them a real part of the process and they look forward to the delivery date.
Another great option is to look for sibling classes in your area that are geared specifically for children who will be become a big brother/sister and their important role. Usually these classes are offered by hospitals and allows your child to make something for the new baby. These turn into a wonderful keepsakes.
In preparation for the big day, take your child shopping or have them make something special for the new baby. Perhaps a baby blanket or special picture to hang in the baby’s room that he/she can give to their new sibling. Equally important is a gift from the new baby to them. Something thoughtful that your child would like such as a new book, themed pillow, poem or anything that can also be a keepsake. This will make your child feel special knowing the new baby is happy to meet them too. It is a small gesture but goes a long way.
By incorporating these tips, you will find great success when introducing your new baby to your child. While integrating them into the entire process, this makes them feel included instead of excluded. Some children can feel a sense of resentment because their parents decided to have another child. They can tend to feel like it is a competition for their parents’ love and attention. They might unintentionally internalize feelings of low self-esteem in thinking they aren’t good enough and that’s why my parents had another child; to replace me. Although younger children may not be emotionally mature enough to express their feelings, make no mistake they can be present. Many families grow without incorporating any of these tips and the love between the children can turn out fine. But if you’re looking for the sibling journey and the bond to be better than just fine, then why not?
After the new baby is born, be sure to continue on doing a good job with inclusion techniques. Your new baby will demand a lot more attention than your older child and being a parent of two is very different than just one. It is important to maintain the balance between the kids when you can. Continue to ask your older child to be your special helper at bath time, dinner time etc… as this will prove to be rewarding and much more enjoyable for everyone. As your children grow, it’s good practice to designate special one on one time with each child. This changes the dynamic between parent and child especially when it’s only the two of you versus the entire family together. Just as parents need their alone time, children like alone time with each parent too. Following these simple to incorporate tips will help ease the transition when baby number one meets baby number two. Children have a hard time communicating their feelings and in turn, they act out when feeling frustrated or hurt.
The strength of our family is so important and lays the foundation at an early age. The skills and techniques that are taught to us as children carry over to adulthood. As parents, we can do our part to eliminate any ill feelings and give our children a good head start with feelings from the heart. Your children, your family and your sanity will thank you!