Discovering that there’s going to be a new baby in the family is an exciting revelation – although it is sometimes a bit of shock! Whether the baby is planned or not, if you already have at least one child, you have an extra hurdle to overcome in the next few months. Getting your older child used to the idea of a new sibling and introducing them when they’re born can both be daunting prospects. You hope that the siblings will love each other and be friends for the rest of their lives. However, you know there’s a risk of sibling rivalry, and you need to address that. When you tell your older child or children about the new baby, you should take their age into account.
Under Two Years Old
It’s not uncommon to end up with two little ones at the same time. Sometimes you’ve got a toddler when the newborn comes along, but your older child could be as young as nine or ten months. If your youngest child is only small, explaining to them that they’re going to have a new sibling might seem difficult. It can be a struggle to get them to understand much, and perhaps they’re not even talking yet. In fact, many little ones won’t fully grasp the concept of a new sibling until they actually arrive.
Still, you can talk to your infant about what’s going to happen, and some of them will grasp what’s going on. If they’ve already been around other pregnant women or babies, it can be a little easier for them to understand. You can tell them that a new baby will be coming and that it’s growing in mommy’s tummy. Looking at picture books can be a good idea to familiarize them with the idea that they’re going to be a big brother or sister. They might not fully understand, but they can begin to realize what’s happening.
Toddlers and Preschoolers
Children who are slightly older will be able to get a better understanding of what’s about to happen. This can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, they’ll know that a new baby will be joining the family. On the other hand, they might not like it. They may not be all too thrilled about the idea of sharing their attention with a new baby, especially if they have been the baby of the family up until now. The key is to help them get excited about the baby while staying engaged with them and getting them involved.
If you’re not sure where to start, reading books about new babies and brothers and sisters is a good idea. There are many books in this genre, so you’re sure to find one that works for you. You can even get a personalized book to make it even more special. If you want your preschooler to get excited and maybe even feel proud about having a new sibling, big sister and big brother tops are a fun way to do it. Your little one gets to show off that they’re about to have a new sibling and they get something new to wear out of it too. You can also take them shopping for baby things and let them have their say, so they feel they have some responsibility.
Older children could also have issues with jealousy when a new baby comes along. They might already have one or even two siblings, but it could still be a different experience from last time. Children old enough to go to school are more capable of talking openly about what’s happening and about how they’re feeling. So you should be able to listen to their concerns, while at the same time making sure they know that the baby will have needs that you need to attend to. You can talk to them about helping out with the new baby, and how you trust them to be helpful, but without making it seem too much like you expect them to help. You can make them a bigger part of everything, perhaps asking them to help decorate the baby’s room or go shopping for baby things with you.
Another way to help an older child is to talk to them about how they’ll have it better being the older sibling. Don’t just frame it as having a new sibling to play with, although that is one advantage. Let them know about the positives of growing up, like going to bed later or getting to spend more time with your friends. Getting older is hard for anyone, but it can be particularly difficult if you’re no longer the baby of the family.
A new sibling for a teenager can be a strange thing to deal with. They might have expected that there wouldn’t be any more babies in the near future. While some teenagers take to being a big brother or sister to a baby pretty easily, others are more resistant. Being a teenager is hard enough, and having a crying baby in the house doesn’t exactly make it any easier. If you have a teenager and a baby on the way, one of the best things you can do is give your teenager their freedom. Don’t expect them to parent the new baby or force the subject of being interested too much.