I vividly remember the days in late August when my older sister and I suddenly found ourselves sleeping over with the neighbors. They were very nice people: fun, happy, trusting, and kind. They were also the parents of one of my playmates, so that meant I was having the time of my life. Or was I? After a couple nights of sleeping over, I recall our neighbor saying, “They are home! Your mom is home with the new baby!” or something to that effect. The front door swung open, and there she was. My mom was walking towards us with a smile, wearing a blue dress. My dad was getting baby items off of the back seat of the car. However, neither he nor she was the focus of my attention. I wondered what was being held in my mom’s arm. As she got closer, successful by a combination of her stepping forward and me running to be by her side, I realized that this was really happening. My mom was carrying a new baby.
It is important to provide older siblings with the opportunity to engage in your pregnancy and planning for the new baby early on. I often felt as though having had some responsibility ahead-of-time would have helped my little brain register that I would no longer be the baby of the family. I was three-and-a-half the day in August when my parents came home with my little sister. Now, exactly twenty-five years later, I remember that day as if it were yesterday. So believe me when I say that the “moment lasts forever.”
August 26, 1986: The day my parents came home with my baby sister, Ashley.
That’s me in the pink skirt. I’m on a mission to figure out what’s going on.
How Can I Best Prepare My Other Children?
While preparing existing children for the “coming home” of their new baby brother or sister, the methods and suggestions definitely depend on the current age of the children. The following are five important tips that I hope will assist you in your pursuits of preparing children who are between ages two and six years old:
Our family, Our house, Our baby: Would it not be fantastic to allow your other children to share in the joys of the new baby? By sharing ownership, you are allowing the siblings to begin their bond much earlier. It also assists in your current children’s understanding that they will always be an important member of the family. They will begin to understand that the new baby is simply an “addition” to the structure that currently exists. I think it would be great to also include siblings in preparation so that they feel just as involved with the baby. As they truly begin to understand what “our” means, any fear and nervousness will most likely begin to dwindle.
Enjoy time with other infants: Do you have a friend or family member who recently had a baby? Consider making a visit and letting her know that you will be bringing over your children. Providing your children the opportunity to see other infants “in person” may provide great practice to them. Explain the importance of holding the baby correctly and answer questions as to why the baby may be crying. Reconfirm with positive words of expression such as “Awww. You are holding the baby so sweetly. You are going to be a great Big Sister!” Such feedback will assist in getting everyone more and more excited!
Baby name help!: Sometimes parents feel overwhelmed with the task of choosing a name. A baby’s name turns into a kid’s name. A kid’s name turns into a teenager’s name. A teenager’s name turns into an adult name. Needless to say, the name chosen will be representative of your baby for the rest of their lives. Why not include your current children by asking for suggestions on initials and/or names? Even if you do not decide to name your child one of the names they chose, at least provide positive feedback and reassure your children that choosing their names was just as important.
When they were babies: Many children may wonder why babies require so much attention. From feeding, burping, diaper changes, baths, pediatric appointments, to cleaning, washing clothes, etc. When a new baby comes home, there are many tasks that will become routine and may take time away from the other siblings’ time with mom or dad. Let your current children know why these tasks are important and that you spent the same amount of time making sure they were taking care of, as well. Assure them that you love them just as much as you do the new baby. One suggestion that can help you include your other children may be to have them assist with bathtime. Singing your favorite family song to the baby while bathing may help to ease some of the anxiety and allow more family time, while not taking away from the new baby’s needs.
New Baby Books: There are many books about bringing home a new baby or becoming a big brother or sister. For pre-school or school-age children, these are great ways to show them a glimpse of what life will be like after the baby arrives. Baby on the Way by Bill and Martha Sears talks about pregnancy, birth, and after the baby arrives. Using correct terminology and analogies, this book may help your school-age child understand the process more. In addition to “new baby” books, consider purchasing some classic baby books that the entire family can read to the baby together. This will assist with sibling bonding at bedtime. Four popular baby bedtime books with fantastic illustrations include:
This is a just few minutes after my parents arrived home with the new baby. So far, so good!
Being a big sister has been one of the most amazing responsibilities I have experienced. Having someone to look up to me, teach, and have accountability for ended up not being such a bad thing. It has truly been rewarding. Allow the sibling(s) an opportunity to learn more about the new baby and become involved in preparing for arrival. Remain honest with your children about this new transition the family will be undertaking. Provide them with the support, guidance, and reassurance that their position within the family will always be just as important and much needed.
Well, that is enough about me. Now, I wonder how my older sister felt when I was the new baby coming home…
Further reading on the topic:
* This post contains affiliate links. By clicking on them, you help support our cause. Thank you!