Introducing a new child into a family can be such an exciting experience! Whether that new child is coming to your family biologically or through adoption, it is a momentous occasion that will be remembered with fondness for years to come.
However, there can sometimes be some trepidation when it comes to planning for new sibling introductions. Change can be difficult for little ones; it can be easy for them to feel overwhelmed and like their place in the family has been upturned by this new little being.
Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to prepare your little one (and yourself!) for the sibling introductions that are around the corner.
Here are a few simple ways to ease the transition when a new baby comes along.
1. Give older siblings ownership.
From the time the new baby is still in utero (or waiting to be adopted), begin encouraging your child to take ownership of their important role as an older sibling. Refer to the baby as “their baby” and talk about how much you’ll need their help and how important their job will be as the big brother or sister. If you can help instill in them the value that they have as an older sibling, they will hopefully be more excited about taking on this new role.
2. Read all the big sibling books.
There are so many wonderful books available about new babies and siblings. A quick online search or a trip to your local library will provide you with plenty of great options for presenting the idea of a brother or sister to your child. Books are a great way to prepare and transition children in various circumstances, especially when it comes to adding a new person to the family.
3. Tell “big & little sibling” stories.
This was a favorite for my own daughter. In the last months leading up to the birth of her little brother, I started a bedtime ritual where I would tell her “Fernie and Clive stories” (those are their names). She would choose the adventure for each story — sometimes a trip to the zoo, the beach, or even the moon — and I would weave a tale for her about the adventures she was going to have with her little brother. She adored the stories and it got her very excited about her little brother. Of course it is also important to remind older siblings that babies won’t be all that lively for the first little while, but after a bit they will be able to have so much fun together!
4. Woo them with gifts.
This technique is a classic when it comes to introducing children to a new baby. Choose a gift ahead of time that you know your child will love and when they meet the new baby, present them with said gift. My own daughter received an Elsa dress from her new brother and was beyond thrilled. The gift definitely helped him to get into her good graces early. Likewise, let your older child(ren) choose a special going home outfit or a gift for the new baby. They will feel so proud and excited of whatever they choose. Matching big sibling/little sibling t-shirts might be a fun gift option too!
5. Make a big deal about how important the older sibling is.
One of the biggest challenges about introducing a new baby into the family is that the older child(ren) can begin to feel like the baby is getting all the special attention. Be sure to make a big deal about all the special privileges that your little one does have as a result of being the older sibling. Things like, “Isn’t it so fun that you get to stay up later, because you’re a big sister?” or “I bet your little brother wishes he could enjoy popsicles too, but babies only get milk when they’re small!” This can help remind your older child that it’s not all bad being the big sibling. In turn, be sure to go out of your way (to the best of your ability) to be intentional in creating quality time for your older child(ren). It can be something fun like a parent/child date to go get frozen yogurt, or it can be something much simpler like 15 minutes of undivided time building with blocks or playing with dolls. Find little ways to speak to your child’s heart and let them know just how special they are!
Image courtesy of Coeur de La Photography