When I was pregnant with Little Brother, I was terrified that our little family would be turned upside down and never be the same. I didn’t want my relationship with Big Brother to change. I was scared that I wouldn’t have enough time for either one of them. Big Brother was 22 months when Little Brother was born and I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to gracefully handle 2 very needy children at once.
So, I did what I always do when I am unsure about things…I prayed, checked out books, read articles, and sought the advice of friends trying to find some “information” to make the transition easier from a family of 3 to a family of 4. There are not many books written on this topic for adults, and the one that I did read was really discouraging. There were very few articles that were all that helpful. The best advice came from my friends and family…people who had already walked in my shoes! Most of the suggestions you read are not mine–they were passed on to us from many other people.
I’m hoping this article will bring you some encouragement if you are adding to your family. Yes, things will be different…but in a great way! We felt that one of the greatest gifts we could each give our children was the love of siblings. And it just keeps getting better the older they get!
Here are just a few suggestions to make the transition easier, especially for your older child(ren):
-Start talking early. Once I was about 15 weeks along with Little Brother, we started telling Big Brother that he would soon have a baby brother or sister. We let him touch my growing belly and give the baby kisses. Our theory was that the sooner we made the baby part of our family (even just through talking), the easier it would be when he actually arrived.
-Involve your child. We took Big Brother to my sonogram appointment where we find out whether we were having a girl or boy. He was only 18 months old at the time, so of course he didn’t really understand. However, this was a big moment for our family and we wanted him to be included. He got to see the baby moving around on the ultrasound and hear his heartbeat.
Once it got closer to my due date, we took him to “shop” for a gift he could bring the baby at the hospital. Of course, he was quite perturbed that the gift wasn’t for him, but he eventually graciously parted with the stuffed bear. We also asked him to help us put things in the nursery, small things of course like, “Can you put this book in the basket?”
-Read books about new babies. Along with our Bible study each night, we began reading a story about having a new baby. I think this really helped! Be sure and check with your local library for an assortment of books. Here are just a few of our favorites:
-Encourage your child to practice “taking care” of a baby doll. If you are the parent of a boy, you might be cringing. I honestly think it is a good idea for girls and boys to occasionally have a doll to play with. It helps them to practice being loving and gentle. Big Brother is as “boyish” as they come, but he enjoyed playing with a baby for a while (that phase is over now that Little Brother is more interactive).
-Make the room change fun and exciting. Because we were having another boy, we chose to keep the nursery the same, changing only the name on the wall. This meant that Big Brother moved to his new bedroom. We wanted him to be fully settled in his new room well before the baby was to arrive, so we moved him 2 1/2 months before my due date. We also made a HUGE deal about it. Perhaps a little too much–for MONTHS he begged anyone who came to our front door (including the UPS man and a door-to-door evangelist) to come see his new big boy room!
-Once it is time to go to the hospital, leave your older child(ren) with someone they are comfortable with. We are blessed that we live in the same town as both of our parents, so Big Brother had plenty of places to go once Little Brother arrived. He loved spending time with his grandparents, so this worked out perfectly. Just try to send your child with someone who they know well and enjoy spending time with. And if possible, let him/her frequently spend time with them prior to the baby’s birth.
-Make time for each child. Within the first week of the new baby’s arrival, try to spend at least an hour of one-on-one time with your older child. Take him to do something he enjoys. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy…Big Brother’s favorite things are to drive under the “big tunnel” and go on the escalator at the mall! Likewise, your spouse should do the same. Attempt to do this once a week for the next several weeks.
-Let your older child help with the baby. This is so important! Have your older child run to get diapers, give the baby his paci, or “read” him a book. Let the older sibling hold the baby (under your careful supervision, of course). The more that you let your older child be involved with the baby, the less resentment he/she will have! And if you are paranoid about your older child sharing germs with the baby like I was, keep some hand sanitizer in every room of the house. :)
Adding another child to the family is certainly an adjustment for everyone, but seeing the love your children have for each other makes it all worth it!
Now it’s your turn…share a suggestion you have for welcoming a new sibling!