Help them become friends before the birth…
Starting to introduce that Mommy is having another baby is so important to any other children living in the same household. Taking the time at least a few months before the birth to prepare yourself and the older child, will be a much easier transition than doing no preparation at all. The older the child the more they will understand, but for toddlers it can be more difficult. If there are already multiple siblings in the family, then the transition is usually smoother, however with an only child introducing that they will be ‘graduating’ to big sister/brother early on is important as pretty soon, they will have to learn to share you and your time – something they’ve never had to do before.
In the early months of pregnancy, start talking about babies and how little they are. If the child doesn’t yet know about pregnancy number 2, start asking them if they’d like a baby sister or brother, introduce the idea that it would be a positive change and they would have a friend to play with as the baby got older. If your child is young and can’t really communicate their feelings verbally, then still talking about having another baby in a natural way will slowly get them ready.
Explain to the child what is growing in Mummy’s tummy and that they are going to be the best big sister or brother, you can ask them to kiss, sing and read to mummy’s tummy to help encourage them to accept a second child and start a bond between them both.
Reading child friendly books are fantastic ways to help prepare for their ‘big sister/brother’ role.
- We’re Having A Baby – Marion Cocklico
- Mommy’s Having A Baby – Braylen Jefferson
- I’m Going To Be A Big Sister – Brenda Bercun
- I’m Going To Be A Big Brother – Brenda Bercun
- Babies Don’t Eat Pizza – Dianne Danzig
- Brand New Baby Blues – Kathi Appelt
- My New Baby – Rachel Fuller
- There’s A House Inside My Mummy – Giles Andreae
- Waiting For Baby – Rachel Fuller
Getting a baby doll is a great visual aid, this helps your child understand what the baby will look like once it arrives. You could buy a dolls cot, bottle and pram and allow them to explore through pretend and imaginative play. Show them how to rock the baby, feed it and stop them crying. Taking the doll on outings with you in the day, is another great way to slowly introduce baby number 2 into their life.
Get the older siblings photos/baby book out. Little children love looking at themselves as a baby and if you have photos from when you were pregnant with them, show them and explain how your tummy changed and got bigger as they grew. Taking your child to a baby scan is also another special bonding activity, but if this isn’t an option you could always just show them the baby scan pictures when you get back.
Take your child out on baby related shopping trips and allow them to pick out a few clothes, maybe even the outfit the baby will return home from the hospital in. Don’t forget to get your older child something too, maybe a special outfit to wear when visiting the baby for the first time. They could also help you find nursery furniture, this all helps with the bonding process. If you have an active toddler who’s not into shopping, then have them ‘help’ assemble the baby’s cot or draw a picture to hang in the nursery.
If your child isn’t interested in anything to do with another baby, leave it a few weeks and then try introducing it again. Sure enough they will come around. Like I said, the earlier you introduce the idea that your having a baby, the more time you have to prepare.
Most importantly, remember not to stress! Thousands of babies are born everyday with siblings already waiting to meet them and not every transition or first meeting goes well and that’s okay, it is just a matter of time, sure enough it will become their ‘normal’ very quickly.