Preparing your child for a new arrival
The arrival of a new addition to the family is a really exciting time for your older child, but it may at the same time be a cause of worry and confusion for them.
A new baby brings many changes and it’s important to be prepared and have a plan that helps your older child adjust to their changing role. An older child, particularly a firstborn or only child may worry about how the new arrival will affect them.
Their biggest concerns are likely to revolve around their possessions and having to share time, love and affection with you. They may also be nervous about the physical changes brought about during pregnancy. There are a host of helpful tried and trusted ways to help prepare your older child for the new arrival, here are a few tips we find most helpful.
Breaking the news
It’s best to wait until your bump is showing a little before you tell your child what is happening. Choose a time when they feels happy and safe, such as after snuggling up together to read a book or watching their favourite program.
For younger children, it may be helpful for you both to look through their baby pictures together, this will help them understand what their new brother or sister will look like at first. Older children are likely to be more curious about how the baby is growing inside your womb. There’s a wonderful range of children’s books, aimed at different age groups that specifically address a new arrival in the family. These books are a great and fun way to introduce the changes ahead, and provide a focus, through images and simple narrative, for you to personalise the new experience ahead. Those few months seem like an eternity to a little one, so a calendar can be a really useful aide to help visualise the approach of the big day.
A really good idea is to buy a present from the baby to give to the older child. Your older child will also enjoy a trip to the shops before the birth to pick out there own present for baby. It’s helpful to bring them into the preparations as much as possible, perhaps by selecting a new sleep suit in their favourite colour or involving them in decorating baby’s new bedroom.
The green-eyed monster!
After baby arrives it’s natural for a big brother or sister to be a little demanding. At this busy time be sure to arrange some special one on one time. Help them to express their feelings, assure them that it’s ok to feel angry and jealous, but not to act on these feelings. Try to involve your older child in as many practical ways as possible, handing you a nappy at changing time and so on, and be sure to praise them for being such a great older sister or brother, for being so gentle and for helping.
Talk about all the things they can do now they’re no longer a baby, whether that means walking, talking or going to the cinema or having an ice cream. Make sure they understand that their seniority is also special. Above all, tell your older child often how much you love them simply for being themselves.
Finally don’t forget to give yourself some extra attention too, and do remember that watching the loving bond develop between your children makes up tenfold for any frustrating moments that may pop up along the way.