Preparing An Older Child For Baby's Arrival
The arrival of a new baby is an exciting time for the whole family, but us mommas sometimes fear that all this fuss over the new baby will leave our oldest (especially if they’re a first born), feeling a bit lost and afraid. With the birth of our second, and now third baby, we’ve come up with some special traditions and ways to prepare our older children before the arrival of the new addition to the family. We think it’s helped to ensure a more fun and loving environment after Baby comes. Here are a few ways to plan ahead and prepare older siblings for the newest addition.
Involve the older sibling in as much of the planning and dialogue about baby as possible. Ask their opinion on what you should name the baby. Before you find out the gender of the baby, have the child(ren) give their predictions if the baby will be a boy or girl. Once the gender is revealed, have a special little “reveal party” with pink or blue balloons and cake. Ask their opinion on nursery decor and toys. Often times this is just a play exercise, but it’s interesting and fun to get the older child’s perspective.
Plan a special outing before baby arrives. A day at an amusement park, the local park, zoo, museum, or just about anything fun that your child enjoys and where they get to spend one-on-one time with you is what counts.
A thoughtful pre-baby gift is a great memento and way to help the older sibling feel special amidst all the new baby shower gifts. Perhaps a new bedding set with their favorite Princess character, or a special piece of artwork to hang in their new toddler room is a great way to help the child feel that they’re still special and will be meaningful years down the road.
Record a video together for baby telling them how much you can’t wait to meet them and introducing all the special people that will be in new babies life, including big brother or big sister. We’re doing this with the arrival of our third and the kids are excited to plan out the location and what roles we’ll all play in the video.
If possible, schedule one-on-one time with the older child after baby is born. Something as simple and quiet as just sitting down together for uninterrupted time and reading a book shows your first born that they’re still a huge priority for you. After our son was born we had my mom watch him for an hour so we could take our daughter to the park, just the three of us. This helped her feel that while the family dynamic had changed, her needs and interests were still important and would be met.
Big sister and big brother gear is always a fun way to get the older sibling excited for the new arrival. From Etsy to most department stores, you can get personalized gear of any kind now to get them pumped for their new role. Stress how special they are to now be able to call them self a big brother or big sister.
Write a sweet letter to your older child or make them a photo album or video just for them. Document special times you’ve shared together. Encourage them to sit down and flip through it both before and after baby is born as a reminder of just how much you love and care for them.
While it’s important to prepare the older sibling for a newborn baby, it’s also important not to go overboard and focus all of your talk and energy on getting them excited. And during your talks, focus on how you’ll love having them as a helper and someone to help make baby laugh, but try not to focus on how much of a responsibility it is to be a big brother or sister, as it can be overwhelming to the older child. Eventually everyone will get used to their new roles and the newest addition will seem like he or she has always been a permanent fixture.