Your first child was your whole world, and now you’re pregnant with number two and it’s time to start preparing your firstborn for the new arrival. Here are some tips on how to make the transition to big brother or big sister easier on everyone:
- Start early: I told our daughter about her baby sibling as soon as I found out. I even had her help announce it to my husband with me! The sooner you talk to your first child about new baby, the longer they have to accept and get excited for the change.
- Read a few helpful articles/books: You’re reading this one so you’re already on track!
- Involve baby in conversations/activities: We always included the new baby in our bedtime prayers and would have our firstborn kiss my belly as if she was saying goodnight to Baby Brother. Another way we included baby before he was born was to make the gender reveal a special family moment. We asked the tech at our 20 week ultrasound to write the gender in a card, which we then went home and opened as a family of three. Then, my toddler got to draw Baby Brother a picture in that card as a keepsake. Involving the baby in activities and talking about him often helped him seem real to my toddler, even though she couldn’t see him yet.
- As your due date gets closer, step up your game: Talk even more about the baby. What will happen when we go to the hospital? How can (your child’s name) help with the baby? Where will baby sleep? What can’t (your child’s name) do with baby? (Can’t feed Cheerios, can’t jump on, can’t hold without help, etc) Just make sure to make your dialog positive so your child doesn’t feel restricted. Try something like, “The baby can’t have the food you eat because he’s so little. You’re a big girl and get to have all the yummy things and all baby gets is boring milk!”
- Get a gift for your older child “from” the new baby: When your first gets to meet the new baby, give her something you know she will love and emphasize that it’s from the baby. This is a positive first interaction and your toddler will remember how cool her new sibling is! Just make sure to include batteries if needed. We got our toddler a bubble machine but forgot the batteries so it was a disaster. She went from total excitement to complete distraught and I’m pretty sure she blamed her baby brother for the “broken” toy. One more tip: give the gift AFTER the two kids meet and you get all the pictures you want or else your toddler might be too excited to play with the toy instead of sit with the baby.
- At first meeting, have baby in his bassinet, not your arms: Letting your first run into your open and empty arms shows her that she is still loved, she’s still important to you, and she can still be put first. Then bring baby over.
- When you come home, start every morning addressing your toddler without the baby: I got this fantastic suggestion from a friend when I asked for her thoughts on preparing your firstborn. She pointed out that seeing your first child for a few uninterrupted minutes each morning starts the day off on a good note. With her own toddler, she noticed less tantrums and more love shown because he had that time with mom by himself. It might not be possible every morning, especially while your unpredictable newborn doesn’t have a schedule, but it helps to try.
- The baby can wait; the toddler cannot: In most cases, it’s okay to let your infant cry in a safe place while you tend to your toddler. It’s the older child who will remember your attention and help, or lack thereof; the baby won’t know any different. If your older child starts to feel neglected, her trust that you’ll be there might be lost and the tantrums will be more frequent.
What other tips would you give a second-time mom about preparing your firstborn? Leave us a comment and help each other out!