Aww, it’s that time of year, everyone I know or see on the street is pregnant. Maybe it’s the fact that their winter coats are slowly fading away and the bump is in full force.
When I see this mom I’m curious if they have prepared their firstborn with the new addition to the family?
Children need to feel secure in their family. It’s important to talk about how they will be taking on a new role as a big brother/sister. Sometimes kids are completely honest and say that they like the way their family is now and don’t want a new sibling. Validation of feelings is key here. Letting them know that it is ok to have those feelings, that you can understand how they might feel that way because right now everything is comfortable. Having a new sibling will be a change for them and their parents. Having a new sibling will also be exciting and bring in more love to everyone.
When I was pregnant with my second boy, I wanted to make sure that my son was involved from the get-go. My husband and I would talk about the baby growing in my belly and what our family will be like when they would make their debut. Some of the ways that we included my son into the pregnancy stage of his sibling were taking weekly photos of the baby bump.
I am also a very goofy mom and like to have fun. I would have my son help me paint my belly for different holidays and we would dress up for the bump pictures. He always got a kick out of it and we would say that was Blake’s first holiday with us.
I also read several big brother books to him. While I read the stories, I would change the names in the book to Gavin and Blake (my boys’ names). He loved this and it would open the door to conversations about what it might be like for us. He began to take the initiative and read books to Blake while smothering him with hugs, kisses and his favorite, raspberries.
Going through photo albums of when your child was a baby can also help them have a better understanding of what to expect. Talking about when they were a baby, they loved to be swaddled, or rocked or sang too. Making it personal for them makes it so much more special. We did this for Gavin and talked about how he would spit out his pacifier and just cry. He would crack up when I would imitate him spitting out every single brand of pacifiers that were made. He was a tough infant!
Babies cry and they can cry a lot. Explaining that this is the way babies tell us that they need something is important. We packed a bag full of baby essentials (diaper, wipes, pacifier, toys) and we let Gavin have access to it. Sometimes when Blake was crying, Gavin would go running for his bag to see if there was something in there that would help soothe him.
A friend of mine gave Gavin a personalized coloring and activity book from Custom Kidz. It is awesome. It has a story about being a new big brother with different activities.
The home environment will change with a new baby. There is baby gear everywhere, the older sibling may get a new bed and give their crib to the baby and the noise level may need to be altered (Shh, the baby’s sleeping.) I think that it’s important to explain this to the older sibling. Giving them the choice to help with the nursery and picking the new big bed can give them some control. Also providing a quiet space with activities can be helpful.
Regression is common after there is any change in a child’s life. Take a deep breath and you will all get through it. Validate their feelings and normalize this new experience.
Of course, you know the most important piece is to provide that one on one attention with your oldest when the baby is born. Even just 10 minutes to read a story, snuggle and play a game is so worth it.
Click on the post about Book Making, to help ease the transition. It’s a great way for the family to get involved and have a wonderful book filled with personal memories.