Help Your Big Kid Bond With Your New Baby
The birth of a sibling is a two-fold gift: Parents get to welcome a new baby to love while a lifelong friend is brought home for their older tot. Most brothers and sisters learn to bond naturally, but there are a few ways parents can support the process. Before you welcome your baby home, check out this age-based guide for encouraging sibling love.
Time it right.
Toddlers aren’t able to grasp future concepts or the idea that something big will happen nine months down the road, so hold off on sharing your baby news until the third trimester. Reading books about babies can help your tot become familiar with the new situation, but don’t worry if she doesn’t completely understand what’s going on. That’s normal!
Involve your tot.
If you’re planning to have a party or baby shower to celebrate the new baby, be sure to include your first child. Since you probably have all the gear you need already, ask guests to bring a book or small toy for your older child to read or share with the new baby instead of baby gear. You could also prepare for the new baby by shopping with your older child for a special gift she can give her after she’s born.
Spend time around friends’ babies as it may help your toddler become accustomed to being near infants. Show her how you need to be gentle when you touch a new baby and point out some of the things that infants do, like feeding from a bottle or crying when they need a diaper change.
Preschoolers and older kids
Let her pitch in.
Kids this age may be very excited to help get ready for the new baby, so put this energy to work! Fun baby activities include arranging board books on a shelf, stacking baby diapers into a pile, or folding onesies.
Plan special outings.
Be sure to spend regular time alone with your older child and continue this tradition after giving birth to the new baby. Whether you head to the park swings or go out for pancakes each weekend, spending one-on-one time with your firstborn will reassure her that you love her even though you have to divide your attention now.
Don’t be surprised if your child seems sad or frustrated by the new baby. It’s normal for toddlers and older kids to feel some jealousy, and regressing back to baby behavior is also common (your child may ask to be held more or want to drink from a bottle, for example). Giving your oldest extra attention should help ease any anxiety she feels when the new baby arrives.
Most important, watching new siblings bond is an amazing time. Be sure to cherish those early bonding moments and help them strengthen their relationship from the start.