Bringing a new baby home to the family is an exciting experience – especially for the newly inducted ‘big’ brothers and sisters.
But young ones thrive on routine and feel safe when things are predictable; when the novelty wears off and older siblings realise that things are going to be irrevocably different from here on (and that the squalling newborn can’t be returned to sender), mums and dads could be faced with a whole other set of challenges that goes beyond revisiting the 2am night feeds.
Luckily, there are some uncomplicated ways you can to prepare your child for the arrival of another. Check out Disney Baby’s simple parenting hacks that’ll ease the transition when a new bambino comes to stay:
1. Give older siblings ownership.
From the time the baby is still in utero (or waiting to be adopted), start encouraging your child to take ownership of their important role as an older sibling. Talk about how much you’ll need their help and how important their job will be; if you can help instil in them the value that they have as an older sibling from early on, they will hopefully be more excited about taking on this new role.
2. Read all the big sibling books.
Books are a brilliant way to prep children for a little brother or sister. Check out your local library – there are plenty titles that deal with adjusting to this change in family dynamics.
3. Tell “big & little sibling” stories.
“This was a favourite for my own daughter,” explains blogger Lauren Hartmann. “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”. Obviously, it’s also a good idea to remind older siblings that newborns don’t make the most lively of playmates for the first few months – but after a bit they can look forward to plenty fun together!
4. Woo them with gifts.
To seal the deal, woo (not bribe) your child with the material. Choose a present ahead of time that you know your lil’ one will love and when they meet the new baby, present them with said gift (‘from’ baby). Lauren says, “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.” Also, let your older child(ren) choose a special going home outfit or a gift for the baby.
5. Make a big deal about how important the older sibling is.
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. Something like, “Isn’t it so fun that you get to stay up later, because you’re a big sister?” This, along with regular, undivided quality time dedicated to just your older tot will help curb the feeling that babs is getting all the attention.