Wednesday, 12 November 2014

If It Ain't Broke...Introducing a New Baby to Siblings

Bringing home baby number two (or three, or four) brings with it a whole different set of anxieties and unknowns. You want to make sure that you treat every child with equal love and attention but a new infant demands a lot, and a child who hasn't had any siblings to this point may not easily grasp the change in dynamics. Once you've had time to acknowledge and become excited about your newest addition, how do you prepare your child(ren)? There is a lot of valuable advice out there, but we thought we'd ask our own mavens; the moms we know and respect.
This was an awesome subject to discuss with our mommy panel, and boy did they have a lot to say on the topic! On comparing the answers below to those of the experts, there's very little difference between what these mommies did and what the experts recommend, but everybody found the best way to make their child(ren) feel as comfortable and prepared as possible.

How did you prepare your older child for the arrival of a new baby?

"My first child was almost 3 when my second child was born and it was a big adjustment not only for my husband and I, but for our son. I bought a couple of story books about having a new sibling, I sat him down and explained it to him, showed him pictures of when he was a baby, took him on a tour of the hospital nursery, but I really don't think he understood what was happening until the baby was born. He came into the room with his dad to visit and was all excited to see his "brudder" and hold him and check him out. When I came home he helped change him, grab diapers, etc. I let him help out as much as I could so he would not feel out of place. This really helps a lot." - Jacqui (Mother of 3)

"When I was pregnant with my second child, we just spent a lot of time talking to my first born about the baby Mommy had in her tummy. As my tummy started to grow I explained that the baby was growing and let him rub my tummy. When the baby finally arrived he came to the hospital and I held the baby down for him to see and he kissed her on the forehead. We sat him in a chair and carefully let him hold her, which he did for all of about 20 seconds until he lost interest! By the time the 3rd one came along, he was an old pro at it! My youngest kids are so close in age we couldn't really explain the new baby to Jordyn because she was only 16 months when McKenna was born." - Ellen (Mother of 3)

"For my oldest, who was almost three and didn't have little cousins as a reference, I made her feel like she had an important job. It was a special place to be a big sister and Mommy's most regarded assistant. We were co-conspirators in this little addition to our family so her place was now even more necessary." - Susan (Mother of 3)

"Aimee was almost 3 when I had Richard so it may have been a little easier for me as she somewhat understood there was another baby coming into the house. Right from the get go we involved Aimee in any aspect of this baby that we could. We let her come with us to pick out the paint and decorating supplies. She helped her dad re-erect the crib. Helped me wash all the little clothes and she got to hang them where she wanted in the closest. I wanted her to feel like she was as much a part of the baby as we were. She jumped into the roll as Jr. Mom quite nicely. She was very protective over him and was so gentle. We had quite a few friends having babies around the same time so we exposed her to little ones as much as possible and we would practice the drill about: Be Gentle, Soft Kisses, Only touch their hands, No tight hugs… so by the time Richard came around she was quite the pro!" - Julie (Mother of 2)

"I guess the most important thing is to make sure the older ones still feel loved and you still give them some quality time without the baby. (In my case I was unfortunately hospitalized after each of my pregnancies so this was hard to do in the beginning.) Make them feel needed by holding the baby. Make sure they know they are still very loved and a part of the family. As you know newborns take up so much of your time so just try to include the older ones as much as you can and spend time with them." - Lynda (Mother of 4)

​"I didn't have much problem with the second baby and the first but I did worry about it. I planned ahead and knew I was having a boy so I got an anatomically correct newborn boy doll. I dressed the doll and Mathew in matching clothes and blanket. I gave the doll to Doriana when I brought Mathew home, although she had held Mathew in the hospital. All she did was want to hold Mathew. I made sure that when anyone came to visit that I gave them a heads up to say hello to Doriana first and not to ignore her throughout the visit. I told close friends and family to bring something for Doriana (something very small) if they were bringing a gift for the baby or I had a few things ready for the visitors to share with her (books, puzzles, etc.). I made sure to include Doriana in everything I did with the new baby, including feeding (ie. have a snack ready for her when I was nursing and do it together). We went everywhere together and I got her to help whenever possible. I also planned events for just the two of us." - Pam (Mother of 2)​

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