My firstborn finally has a sibling. It’s been a long ten month wait (an absolute eternity for a four year old – quite possibly the same when you’re the pregnant one), but the look of pure joy when my daughter laid eyes upon her lil’ bro was better than Christmas.
Of course, the practicalities of fitting another human and his needs into our household has not been a cakewalk; particularly for our older child. She’s had to sacrifice a hefty portion of Mummy and Daddy time, learn to tune out the nocturnal wails, and realise that she’s not quite fully equipped to don the baby carrier and tote her brother around like an accessory.
On the whole, though? It’s all been smoother than we feared — thanks largely to preparing our beloved girl way in advance for the arrival of another treasure just as precious as she; here are the eight things we did to help ease the transition for our once upon a time only…
- Bring your child along to your antenatal appointments when possible – not only will they feel included, but the magic of human biology is incredibly thrilling for young minds, taking the focus off any anxieties surrounding the impending big change.
- Check out stories about babies from your local library and chat about the feelings that could crop up when a new person becomes part of the family.
- Show your child their old baby pictures and regale them with (censored) tales of their entry into the world and of when they were growing inside you.
- Let your child choose baby’s going-home outfit, or a special gift to give (make sure you have a present ‘from baby’ to exchange, too).
- Regularly talk about the responsibilities and perks of being a big brother or sister – kids enjoy having an important assigned role.
- Set aside ‘baby-free’ time with your child before and after the birth – make it a regular ‘date’ if you can to send the message that they’re still super-special and a priority.
- Buy your child their own baby doll, so they can model caring for ‘their baby’ when you are caring for yours.
- Remember that your firstborn was once the baby too, and be mindful of expecting them to grow up suddenly. They’re still little themselves, and need you no less than before.