A new baby can be such a joyous occasion. That newborn smell and all snuggles always gets to me. But something a little more important always comes to mind. How will I prepare for a new baby who will have older siblings? Will they be jealous? Will I show them enough attention? Will they understand mommy still loves with?
First, let’s break down these fears. A lot of times as parents we project our own fears insecurities on our children. And this is no different. Children are so flexible and so willing to love. Will they feel jealous at times? Absolutely. It’s human nature. Your child is used to having all of your time and energy and now has to share it with a new baby. But that jealous doesn’t last long, unless we as parents feed into it.
Children are love. It’s all they know, unless thought otherwise. It’s really that simple. Yes they will have some feelings, and as moms we will work them through those feelings, but those feelings will not last. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into how to prepare them before the baby arrives. Whether you are preparing your first born or multiple children I have tips for each age group.
Children of different ages will react differently. Obviously, my eight year old is a lot more understanding and overall helpful then my two year old. And that’s nothing negative towards my two year old. It’s just his mental and emotional growth isn’t where my eight year old’s is.
Preparing a toddler for new baby
Toddlers just do not have the life experiences, knowledge or emotional wherewithal to understand what it means to have a new baby coming. But that doesn’t mean you just avoid the topic when it comes to them. Not at all. Instead you speak about it often. Explain it as much as you can in their terms. Show your excitement. They can understand feelings much better than words.
Other tips to prepare your toddler for a new baby:
- Allow them to pick out a toy for the new baby
- Allow them to help you decorate their nursery
- Show them the ultrasounds
- Let them feel the baby kick
- Anything you can think of that would bring them closer to or have a better understanding of what is about to come.
Once the baby arrives there is so much that can be done to help a toddler with a new baby. You are going to change a million diapers, there’s no doubt about it. Bring in reinforcements. Your toddler may not be able to change a diaper completely by themselves, but they can help. Getting the diaper, wiping their bum, keeping baby smiling by talking to them during the diaper change, or even just throwing the diaper away once its all done. These are all ways that no only allow your child to feel connected to the new baby, but also like a big kid. And that will definitely boost their confidence and fill their love tank.
Now Let's Chat About preparing Preschoolers for a new baby
These are big kids. Well at least in their minds anyway, lol. They are a little more independent as well as a little more able to understand the idea of a new baby coming. Now, this is also the age when sharing its at the top of their list and that includes mommy as well. So it’s important to tackle it head on. Similar to above, telling them about the new baby is key. Bring them along on ultrasound trips (if you’re able), let them kids your belly, read to the baby or even sing to them. Even getting a at home heart beat monitor for them to listen to baby is great. Telling them its their baby its great too. This gives them a sense of ownership and pride. They will be more inclined to interact with a baby if it’s theirs. But this has to translate when the baby does come.
I understand that younger children are rough. Not on purpose, but they just haven’t gotten a handle on their physical abilities yet. But that doesn’t mean keep them away from the new baby. That will have the opposite affect of what we are going for. Instead, have them interact with the new baby in a supervised way.
Ways to involve your preschooler with the new baby
- Them holding baby while sitting in your lap.
- Playing with the baby with one of their toys while you sit close by.
- Having them help rock or bounce the baby in their bouncer / swing.
- Singing not the baby while they lay on their bassinet.
- Pushing stroller with you
Now it’s important to mention that even with all the interactions you can drum up for your older child and the new baby, preschool ages children are a little more sensitive and this can be displayed in a few different ways. Such as regressing, being aggressive towards the baby or even you. More tantrums or meltdowns.
As I mentioned above sharing it’s their strong suit. So making one on one time for them will help tremendously. This does not have to be a daily thing. If you can make it daily, that’s amazing, but even weekly is great. Once a week schedule an activity that you and your preschooler can do alone. This can be done when baby is napping. Or maybe dad keeps baby for a few. Even grandmother or other close friends and family can rotate who will keep baby during this time. And then do something. Even if its just a short walk around the neighborhood. Checking the mail. Coloring together. Literally anything will work. It’s more about the time than the activity. So keep it simple momma.
What about older children? Like five and above. What, if anything, needs to be done to help prepare them for a new baby?
While it may seem a lot easier for this age range, it can be just as tricky. While they are usually less threatened by a new baby, and are much more able to understand what a new baby means that does not take away from their feelings about a new baby. They may become resentful of the attention or they may feel how my eight year old does which is babies cry too much and therefore he just completely disconnects.
Neither of these is ideal but there are a number of ways to combat it. I know I’ve stated this with each age group but I can not drill this in enough. The more you prepare your older child before the baby comes the better the outcome will be for you. Children really aren’t too different from adults in this aspect. We like to be prepared for changes and so do they.
- Talk to them in a way they understand Have honest conversations about what life will look like once the new baby arrives
- Give them task that need to be completed before the baby comes (This can be things like making a card for the baby, helping to pick out a toy for the baby, anything that will give them a role in the new baby’s life)
- Allow them to visit you and the new baby in the hospital
- And probably most important, once baby arrives let them be apart of caring for the new baby.
This can be similar to what I mentioned for the preschool but with a few added things. Older children can help change diapers (depending on age and what’s in the diaper, LOL), they can help make or warm up bottles, they can hold the baby or even put them in their swing/chair (again this depends on age). I have found that when my oldest starts to disconnect and doesn’t really want to be bothered with a new sibling it means he needs a little more one on one time. Allowing him the space and freedom to say how he feels and what is truly bothering him when it comes to the new baby empowers him and helps him navigate what may be some pretty confusing feelings.
As mommas we worry about all of children. Whether we are going from one to two or four to five. Having a new baby will always bring about some new feelings for both you and your older children. But as long as an open dialogue has been established this new journey can be one everyone enjoys.
I hope these tips help you a lot and ease some of that anxiety for you. Let me know below if there’s anything else you’ve done to help prepare for a new baby. Make sure, while you are doing all this preparing that you are still making time for yourself, and if you have a schedule c-section check out this post about how to prepare.