This has been keeping me up at night. Evan will have been an only child for around 3 years by the time the next baby is born, so my anxiety has been building around how to make this life altering adjustment as seamless as possible for him. My biggest fear is him feeling less loved, pushed out, that the baby is replacing him, and how this will manifest itself into my happy go lucky little man. My love for him will never dwindle (my understanding is you gain capacity of love the more children you have), but in my heightened hormonal state (28 weeks pregnant), I am having these irrational concerns.
Not only will there be a baby thrown into the mix but we will also transitioning him from the box room (nursery) and moving him into his big boy bedroom with a big boy bed to match. So I’ve been seeking some advice from experienced mamas to pick up a few pointers, on how to get him as ready as possible for the arrival of his baby sister, and transition into the role of a big brother.
The advice I received was invaluable. They offered solutions and pointers which can be applied now whilst I’m pregnant and can continue to be applied once our little girl arrives. These were some of the best ones:
Jealousy is normal – No amount of preparation can really prepare a toddler for having to share the attention of Mummy and Daddy with another small human. It is important to acknowledge these feelings and reassure as best you can.
Be honest and up front with them – Sometimes it can be easy to keep your child out of loop, as they may not understand what is happening. But how can they mentally come to terms and accept this, if ‘surprise, meet your baby bother/sister’, is sprung upon them. Find an age appropriate way to discuss with them that you are having a new baby. They don’t need all the details but can definitely can be told that they will gain a new friend soon. They then have 9 months to process and in our case build excitement around this pending addition.
Still engage and make time for them – Pregnancy can be tough (I know, I’m still battling with morning sickness and exhaustion) but it is important that this is not an excuse used, that stops interaction with your child now. Last thing we want is for them to have a grudge with the baby before they are even here. Find a balance. Make some time, even if it’s in 10 minute intervals, where they have your complete undisturbed attention. It’s important to reinforce that even though there will be a baby soon, you love them and will always make time to show that.
Involve them – This can happen during pregnancy and not just after the birth. You will be preparing for the new arrival, so let them help. You’re going shopping for baby clothes, take them with you. Let them choose a special outfit. Let them pick out some old toy to give the baby. That way your still bonding with them and having that 1:1 time and it’s bringing them into the process.
Buy a present for your child from the baby for the day of their birth – This is the day that your child will feel most left out. It cannot be helped you’ll be in labour. It is really important that others around you step up in moment to keep them occupied as best they can. But, you can still show let them know you are thinking about them – with a special present. You can frame this with any way you deem fit. It could be a ‘thank you helping, whilst mummy was pregnant present’, ‘to my big brother/sister, I can’t wait to meet you’ etc. They will be so blinkered by this toy that everything else will be forgotten.
Teach them how to look after the baby – I’m not talking about training them up to becoming a nanny to the baby, but teaching them how to hold, be gentle and care for their future sibling. Take the opportunity to build on your bonding time as well as teach. You could buy them a doll, turn this into a game and let them take care of it – it’s great practice when becoming a big brother/sister. Talk to them about how they will be when the baby arrives, how they will help take care and love the baby. How it is their job as the older sibling. Let the bond between them start now.
Hopefully, like me, you’ve read through these tips and feel ready to embrace this and confident with how this can be done successfully. Once the new addition is here, I’ll share some more around how we got on, if there were any other really useful solutions that worked for our family, but in the mean time if you have any other pointers, top tips or ideas please let me know.