When we found out we were expecting our second child, so many fears and questions entered my mind.
How on earth will I be able to handle caring for more than one child?
Will I ever be able to love this new baby as much as I love my firstborn?
How will my oldest child adjust to not being our only child?
Introducing a new baby to the family can be quite world-rocking for older siblings. Mom and Dad know what to expect because they have had a baby before. However, your older child has not. Most likely, he or she knows nothing about babies, and referring to your growing tummy as “the baby” probably doesn’t help put the pieces together for them either!
My husband and I chose to have all of our children fairly close together – they are all about two years apart. That means we had to deal with the “terrible two’s” and adjusting to a new baby, all at the same time. Not exactly a piece of cake!
Now that we are awaiting the arrival of our fourth child any day now, we realize that there are a few tips that have helped ease this adjustment.
1. The I’m A Big Sister Book/I’m A Big Brother Book by Joanna Cole. I bought this book for each of my children when I was expecting, and they all grew really fond of it. In fact, our firstborn, Callie, had it mostly memorized! Currently, I have been reading the I’m A Big Brother Book to my almost-two-year-old son, Cooper, every night before bedtime. He really loves it and reading the book has become our special time together. My favorite thing about this book in particular is that it reinforces the fact that he is even more special now that he will be a big brother, and that babies can’t do all of the fun things that big brothers/sisters get to do. Hopefully once baby arrives and we read this book again, all the pieces fit together for him and he will understand what we’ve been preparing him for. This book also makes a great gift to give to a family expecting their second child!
2. Move Bedrooms Early. If you will need to change sleeping situations – cribs, beds, or bedrooms – I have found this is best done a few months before baby arrives. That way, the Big Brother/Big Sister won’t feel like his or her room, or bed, has been taken by the baby. Now whenever we walk by the nursery (i.e., Cooper’s old room), we peek inside and say, “that’s the baby’s room!”
3. A Special Present. I bought (and wrapped) a special gift for each of our children, from the baby. “The baby” plans to give it to them when they visit us at the hospital. In this case, we got each of them a Little Golden Book and a special treat (candy or gum). That way, they can associate meeting the baby with something positive, which will hopefully make them feel extra special and not feel left out. A book, special toy, or doll would all make fantastic Big Brother/Big Sister gifts. And something sweet at just the right moment never hurts either!
4. Meeting The Baby. The big introduction of the Big Sister/Big Brother to their new baby is such an anticipated moment. In fact, I think we always made a point to videotape the kids coming into the hospital room to meet the baby so we wouldn’t forget a thing. This time around, because our youngest is so attached to his mom, we plan to have daddy holding the baby when the kids first arrive. That way, Cooper won’t feel like the baby has taken his mommy away. A grandparent could also hold baby when the older siblings first meet the new addition. And don’t be surprised if your child is more interested in the snacks available at the hospital or the up and down buttons on the hospital bed than meeting his or her new little BFF!
Introducing a new baby to the family is such an amazing and special time. If your child seems to act up, don’t be discouraged – it is totally normal! I have found that once you are back in your normal routine, and all out-of-town guests have gone home (although my mom leaving will be a sad day!), things will pretty much go back to normal very soon… and it will be a new normal.