January 3, 2017

Introducing a New Baby to Your Older Children

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post about Introducing a Baby to Your Older Children are affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission if you click on one of those links and make a purchase. 

A year ago we discovered that for a two-year-old it's ALWAYS difficult to share, we learned that change is hard, and we learned to tailor our parenting style for two different children and their very different needs. It all started with the introduction of our youngest child - the second of two children in our family. You can say that the day he was born changed our hearts and our lives but the day we brought him home changed everything else.

I was so excited my big boy would be an older brother, and I couldn't wait for him to meet baby #2. I knew my two-year-old was not going to understand the impact that my growing baby bump would make on our house after I gave birth. When the baby did arrive it was such a joyful time, but as I suspected, it came with its challenges and amongst them, was how my oldest accepted the transition to big brotherhood.

Introducing a baby to older children

When we found out I was expecting baby #2 I started researching the most effective ways to introduce a new child to siblings. Children are so territorial, especially when it comes to the attention they get from their parents, so when you introduce anything (or anyone) that takes that attention away, it's important to consider how the change will affect your current household dynamic. My oldest had grown accustomed to having all my time and attention. While pregnant with my second, I started working from home and I took my oldest on trips throughout the city - the zoo, museums, factory tours and festivals. We had so much fun together and while he knew I was pregnant he really didn't know what it all meant - and how could a two-year-old? I was worried big brother wouldn't be so thrilled with the idea of a baby brother when he finally understood that it meant mommy had someone else to care for or when he woke up at 2 a.m. to a crying sibling. I consulted my doctor about it, other moms who had been in my shoes, and I did a little research via parenting books and Pinterest articles.

When it was all said and done I made a list of all the things that worked for us, because in the end, the transition went great. Almost a year and a half later, they still don't share, but I have a feeling that's something I'll be dealing with most of their young lives.

Here are some of the recommendations to make it easier when you introduce a new sibling to a family:

Take your child(ren) on a tour of the hospital.
Hospitals can be scary places and when mommy and daddy go away for a couple days "to have a baby" that concept is completely foreign to most children. Think about how your mind wanders when you don't know details. You make up things in your head, facts are exaggerated and reality is distorted. Now think of the mind of a young, imaginative and impressionable child. Help them fill in the blanks. Most hospitals offer tours to expecting families. Call yours and see if its okay to bring your younger child(ren). Allow them to walk around, ask questions and become familiar with a hospital environment so that they know where you are and what is happening when you are delivering your baby.

Have the new child "bring" a gift for the other child(ren) when they are born.
After consulting our doctor, he recommended that the newest addition bring a birthing gift for his or her older siblings. This gift should be a special something that lets the older siblings know that the newest addition is someone who will have a positive and loving relationship with them. It starts everything off on the right foot and gives the older children an instantly positive perception of the baby.

Talk to your child(ren) about the new arrival.
I realize that there are some many details about childbirth that are not necessary, or appropriate, to teach young children, but there is a certain amount of disclosure necessary to keep them in the loop. You'd be surprised how some small children completely miss the fact that mommy has gained weight. Talk to your little ones about the change that is going to occur - where are is the baby going to sleep, how does a baby act, what does it mean for the current children? Answer their questions and keep the conversation open ended and be approachable so that your older kids feel comfortable always asking questions.

Introducing a baby to older children - 6 tips for adding children to a growing family

Read books about the addition of a sibling or becoming a big brother or sister.
I read to my little ones every night and after I became pregnant I started incorporating books about becoming a big brother into our reading cycle. Explaining the situation in a toddler-friendly manner helped my oldest better understand his new responsibilities as a big brother. I read him "I'm a Big Brother" by Caroline Jayne Church but there are tons of great book options for both big brothers and big sisters.

Make sure to spend quality time with the older child(ren) without the new baby.
A new baby changes a lot of things but one thing that will be most obvious to your older child(ren) is the amount of time and energy you have to devote to them. Set aside special time to spend with your older little one(s) - take them out to lunch or a movie or to the bookstore. Get them out of the house and away from all things baby. It's best to do this special time with mommy and daddy so that you continue to strengthen your relationship with them after you have more children.

Make the experience fun.
When my mom brought our oldest to the hospital he was ready for the party. Equipped with balloons and a cupcake he came for the baby's birth-day, my mom made the day a celebration. When He walked into the hospital room with a smile on his face and fully anticipating a party - the cupcake with sprinkles didn't hurt either. When we arrived home from the hospital he had made a welcome home banner and decorated the house for the babies arrival. The whole experience felt fun and exciting and it allowed my older son to be part of the occasion in a joyous way.

Little boy with cupcake

How many little ones do you have? How was it when you brought them home and introduced them to your other child(ren)? If you have other recommendations please feel free to share them in the comments.

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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25 comments:

  1. I have four children. The first time we had to introduce a new sibling was complicated as my second child was born at 29 weeks and spent three months in the NICU. We did use a lot of the tips you have listed here with all of our kids though, they are great tips!

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  2. These are great tips! I agree, it's a big change for an only child, turning big sibling to adjust too. They are used to having mom and dad all to themselves. We included our daughter in all our prep for the baby - shopping for clothes (let her pick out a few outfits etc). I love that you made it like a party for your little guy with a cupcake and banner! Congrats on your newest arrival!

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  3. I "only" have two kiddos, and am so glad we prepared our son for "his" baby sister. I think the most successful part was allowing him some ownership - of "his" Baby, but also of helping mom - being my special helper. While I didn't do as much one-on-one with him after the baby's arrival, we did make sure (and still do make sure) he gets a LOT of daddy-son time. But, it could also be because dad is home and not deployed right now...!

    Great suggestions!

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  4. This is si much fun - we always had the new baby bring the older one gifts when they would come to the hospital! It made it fun for them to come and visit Mom and baby!!

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  5. I just had the one so I never had to go through this step. It was interesting to read about the preparations for a new member of the family.

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  6. These are really great tips! I have two now, and I agree that letting the older sibling see the hospital makes it less scary when they come to visit.

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  7. These are a great tips and it never easier for kids to see a younger sibling. Thank you for a great read. xx

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  8. I have a friend that was horrified when she found out she was getting a little brother, that was many years ago but I know it still happens. I think it's important todo these things you've mentioned! X

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  9. I agree it is a massive change and you never know how your older children will take it. Luckily most children come to loving the idea once they get used to it!

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  10. It is such a change to older children. Heck it's a change to us adults! Honestly, at the time though I wasn't expecting it to be that way so this is a great read.

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  11. I have two daughters. My girls are 6 years apart. I didn't really do anything to introduce my girls to each other. But I love your tips!

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  12. I don't have children yet and, of course, I wouldn't even think that this could be an issue to take care of. I love your attitude! Happy New Year

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  13. I don't think that many people even consider this when they are having a second baby. I only had one child, so it was never an issue for me, but I could see where it could create a problem if not addressed by those about to become parents the second time around.

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  14. This is such great advice. As a mother of three I can tell you that letting them interact while you are pregnant definitely can help.

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  15. I had my daughter "give" a gift to her brother when she was born and he still talks about it several years later! Big hit!

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  16. Omg your kids are so precious! Congrats on being a mommy! These are some great tips to get everyone in the family comfortable.

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  17. I think the challenge is when you're having your second baby. After that, the 3rd and the 4th would be a breeze. These are all very nice ideas though. It's good to prepare your child and make sure that they're aware that there's an addition to the family.

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  18. We "brought" a gift too for my older boys. It also helped them to act good while visiting me in the hospital. Ha.

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  19. Yes huge change for a child. When I had my second I read to my son while nursing. For me bringing my older son to the hospital was not such a great idea. He didn't like me having tags on my hands. I changed to normal clothes but I think the hospital stay scared him. These are some great tips. :)

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  20. Aww this is such a special moment for families. I've heard some bad experiences, but it always went well with our kids. They were so excited to meet their new brother. Not to mention we always had them get a little present for them.

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  21. What a sweet post! We have three and with each new addition we bought a little sibling present for the kids. Our kids were always excited to meet the new sibling.

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  22. These are some really great tips!!! I remember when my sister was born. I'm 7 years older than her so I definitely didn't take it well lol

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  23. The transition can be tough, these are some great tips to help make it a smooth transition!

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  24. Yes the transition can be tough but if you get the kids involved it can be amazing. When I was pregnant with my youngest my two oldest girls were involved making presents for their little sister and I even got them to make tshirts for each other.

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  25. This is our 5th baby and I am due March 8th. The older ones I am not worried about but my two toddlers I am! I will use some of these tips to see if it helps makes the transition as smooth as possible!

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