Welcome to the family
Introducing a new baby into the family is an exciting yet nerve-wracking time for parents. UK baby brand Nuby have some expert advice on how to prepare your little one for the impending arrival, and help them to stay feeling loved and included.
Explain what’s going to happen
Children under the age of two may not be all that that interested and take the new addition to the family in their stride. However, a slightly older child might be bursting with questions or struggle emotionally with the transition. It helps to let them know what to expect: the new baby is going to be with Mummy or Daddy most of the time, and is either going to be sleeping, crying, or feeding. This will also help manage their expectations, giving them the clear message that their new sibling won’t be able to sit up by themselves, let alone be a playmate from the moment they enter the home.
The more prepared your eldest feels at this point, the easier it will be for them to make the transition from an only child into an older sibling.
Tell the story of when they were born
Show your eldest some old photographs of your or your partner’s pregnancy before they were born, or when they were a baby. Talk to them about what it was like when they were younger and how they cried and fed all hours of the day.
This will not only give you all a few laughs but also help to ease some of their worries and better understand why the new baby needs more attention for the first few months.
Roleplay looking after the baby
Using a doll is a great way to introduce your firstborn to the idea of having a baby around the home. They can practise how to hold the baby, how to talk to them, and how to be gentle with them. This helps to normalise the idea that there’s soon going to be a new arrival and make it feel more real.
Better still, if you’ve got friends or family with small babies, try to set up playdates so your child can get used to hearing baby cries and babbling.
Let them help with the planning
Include your child in the naming process. You could ask them what they think of the names you like. Chances are they won’t agree with your choices and would much prefer you to name their sibling Spider-Man or Peppa! But the key is to show that you value their opinions.
Take them with you when shopping for newborn essentials to make the situation feel more real and to show you value their input. They’ll feel even more important if you let them pick an outfit or two for their younger sibling. If they’re not good with shopping, let them contribute in other ways, such as putting new items away, helping pack the baby changing bag, or even redecorating the nursery.
Involve them in the caring
It’s understandable for parents to be extra cautious when managing a toddler or young child around a baby. But allowing your firstborn to get involved in looking after the baby is crucial in making them feel included rather than pushed out. Singing to the baby, helping bathe them, or passing the wipes or a clean nappy are all easy little tasks that can help the new older sibling feel like they have an important role in the family.
Let them meet their new sibling as soon as possible. A hospital can be a big scary place for your eldest, but the more included they feel at this stage, the more they will continue to do so down the line. Avoid telling your first child off if they make a mistake. Just be patient, calmly explain what they should do instead and let them have another go.
Make them the focus
Family and friends will be focused on the new baby, but your eldest will feel more secure and loved if you heap attention on them as well. Giving them praise, especially when they’re around the baby, will help to boost their confidence and esteem. A ‘gift’ from the new baby to their older sibling is a wonderful way to instil positive feelings from the get-go.
One of parents’ biggest fears is that their eldest will feel left out when the new baby arrives. This often translates into guilt about not spending enough time with their eldest. Unfortunately, this is almost certainly going to happen at first, but you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Focus on the quality of time you spend with your eldest rather than the quantity.