A new sibling can evoke feelings of happiness, confusion, jealousy and excitement in your other children. Depending on their age and maturity levels, there are different ways to approach the topic. Having the patience and making the effort to help your children adjust to the transition will make for a happier home and family.
Don’t Tell Younger Children Too Early
Children who are pre-school age and younger may have difficulty grasping the concept of time. Telling them too far in advance of the due date will be confusing. Wait until the due date is closer to tell them. Children in elementary school have a better idea of time, so it’s okay to tell them once you are out of the first trimester.
Involve Them in Preparations
Buying a new car seat, having a baby shower or preparing a room are all exciting preparations for your new child. Get other children in on the excitement by letting them be involved in the preparations. Allowing them to choose an outfit or toy may help increase their excitement.
Stick to Routines
Many children feel jealous or scared because a new sibling can interrupt their own routine. Stick to the same routine as much as possible by being organized. Find someone to care for your children while you are in the hospital, organize rides so after-school activities can still be attended, make sure favorite snacks are in the cupboard and ensure babysitters stick to your regular schedule.
If Possible, Allow Siblings to Visit in the Hospital
As long as hospital rules allow, bring siblings to visit the new baby in the hospital. It’s best to do this when other guests have left to your children can understand that the new addition is part of their immediate family. With younger children, many parents give a “big brother” or “big sister” gift to the siblings from the new baby to help them understand the role of sharing and build a bond.
Spend as much time one-on-one with your other children as your schedule permits. Ask a grandparent or friend to watch the new baby and other children while you go out for a treat, play a game, read a book or play at the park. Showing them that they are still a big part of your life will help children not to feel jealous.
Most parents report the first few months after bringing a baby home are the most difficult for siblings. Take the time to get ready before a new sibling comes home to make it a better experience for everyone.