From love at first sight to the slowing warming up to the idea, all children adapt differently to a new brother or sister.
Top tips for helping your child adjust to a newborn.
Congratulations on a new arrival coming soon!
Adding a new addition to your family is so exciting, and while some siblings thrive with a new baby in the family, others might want you to take “it back” for the first few weeks. We’ve put together a few tips to get elder siblings used to the idea and five ways they can help with your newborn.
Getting ready to be a big sister or brother:
It’s such an exciting time as the parent, but it’s a bit of an abstract idea for little ones. So here are a few ways you can help get them used to the idea that they will have a new sibling soon and what that will look like.
Share the sonogram and talk it through:
This sounds simple but sometimes gets skipped. Our advice is, to be honest and truthful and keep it age-appropriate. Talk through the baby growing, you can relate it to fruit sizes etc. Talk through the plan for what happens when the baby comes, who will take care of the elder kids, where you will be, what will happen etc.
Read Stories about Siblings
There are some great picture books about becoming an older sibling. Books are a great way to introduce ideas to kids as they can learn from pictures and words, giving them a concrete concept to latch onto and learn from. It’s also something you can refer back to when your newborn arrives if they need help remembering what being a big sister or brother means.
Get them Involved
Planning a new nursery or new decor? Ask them to help you choose it, and offer them the option to have matching sets or pick their favourite for themselves and their choice for the new baby. If you are moving your eldest from a cot that’ll be used for the newborn, do it as early as possible. Make the main focus of the move about them becoming big kids, wanting them to grow and have space instead of needing it for the new baby.
Talk about Babies and what they do
Some siblings love to sit and cuddle or pat their new sibling, others soon realize it’s a bit boring and some won’t give it a second glance. Talk about what babies do, what they eat, how much they sleep, and how they don’t do much. Share photos and talk about what they were like as a baby. Use a doll or soft toy to practice cuddling and patting gently, and how we sit down to hold a new baby.
Adapt Routines Early
Chances are your bedtime routine, if not the rest of your daily routines, may be affected. Make changes to adjust early. Shorten the bedtime routine well in advance of your newborn arrival, so everyone is adjusted to the change before the most significant change comes along. The same with daycare, babysitting or anything new that’ll be added to your current routine. Start it a few weeks before you need to so everyone has a chance to adapt to it and settle in.
When siblings meet
If it feels right for your family it’s a great way to add to and include your eldest in the excitement of it all.
Introduce your eldest to their new sibling.
The big day is here, the moment to introduce your eldest to their new sibling. Having someone bring their eldest to meet their new sibling prepares them for what they’ll see. If you aren’t up to big cuddles, make sure they know.
Having a small present from the newborn to the siblings is also a great idea. If it feels right for your family it’s a great way to add to and include your eldest in the excitement of it all. Aside from that enjoy the moment of siblings meeting for the first time.
How can siblings help with newborns at home?
There’s no one size fit’s all here, some siblings take to a new brother or sister like a duck to water and others need a couple of weeks or months to adjust to “it”. So our biggest tip here is to be inclusive and offer them the chance to get involved or help but don’t force it. Adjusting to a new sibling can take time and that’s ok.
Our top 5 ways siblings can help with a newborn:
- Pick the outfit - Ask them to pick what their new sibling wear’s for the day. It’s something they can take ownership of and gets them involved with the baby.
Get the pacifier/bottle/toy - Little kids often love a job and here this is a great one they can be in charge of. Ask them for help when you need the pacifier, swaddle cloth, soft toy etc.
Sing Songs/Blow Bubbles - We’ve yet to meet a little person who doesn’t love a song or bubbles, this is a great one for inducing smiles and wriggles in their baby sibling. This is also ideal for when you need the baby distracted so you can trim their nails, change their nappy or do any other potentially fuss-inducing care routines.
Help with Bedtime routine - If you are swaddling your eldest can help with the last step as a way to tuck the baby in for sleep time. If you use a white noise machine or monitor they could help turn it on and make sure everything is set for sleep time. This is also great as if it’s a daytime nap they know it leads to some nice one-on-one time with you.
- Talk it through - It’s a bit of an emotional rollercoaster going from single child to sibling, and one of the best ways to help them handle this is talking. Highlight the wonderful help they give you and the baby, and focus on the positives. If it isn’t love at first sight acknowledge that this is a big new change and they are allowed to feel how they feel.
From love at first sight to the slowing warming up to the idea, all children adapt differently to a new brother or sister. We hope the tips above help your family settle into a new dynamic as smoothly as possible.
Snuggly Jacks xx