In the excitement and physical preparation for a new baby, it is important to remember that if this isn’t your first child, your older child needs to be prepared for the impending arrival of a sibling.
This sets the stage in helping the elder child understand that they have a part to play in the growth and care of the family. At the same time, it can help to pave the transition towards having another child competing for mummy and daddy’s time and attention.
Before we look at a few ways on how we can prepare a child for their sibling’s arrival, remember that this is not a promise that your child will have no problems with the baby, as everyone will adjust differently to a new addition to the household.
1. Bring your child along for gynae appointments
Wherever possible, bring your child along for gynae (‘baby doctor’) appointments, and let him/her see the ultrasound during the scan. This will help your child make sense of what is involved in the pregnancy process and to share the excitement as the baby grows inside you.
2. Look through pregnancy and baby pictures from your previous pregnancy
Photos help a child gained clearer understanding of what to expect. If you don’t have an album of your previous pregnancy and baby’s pictures, put a simple one together. Go through the album after every gynae visit to show your child that baby grows similarly to what the child went through. Early baby pictures can help them to anticipate what will happen in the near future.
3. Read books about becoming a big brother/sister
The local library is a great resource for this! Stories that talk about how babies cry a lot and demand a lot of attention will paint a realistic picture for your child. At the same time, your child can learn from stories that while they may feel frustrated for various reasons, the child can learn to be mummy/daddy’s helper by doing simple chores – throwing the diaper away, singing and talking to the baby, playing and singing to the baby or even feeding them.
4. Make/buy a gift for baby together
Make a gift together to welcome baby! A play mobile can be easily made from cardboard or even drawing a family portrait and stick it next to the baby’s cot. If you are not feeling very crafty, head to the stores and let your child choose a gift for the baby, isn’t it nice to see your child presenting a welcome gift to their new sibling?
5. Prepare the nursery together
You could get your child to be hands on in the process. Let him/her be part of the decision making in furniture placement, or in choosing certain items for the nursery. Ask your child to help put the baby clothes to wash and fold the clean laundry together as you prepare for the baby’s arrival. The active involvement will help make your child feel proud to be stepping into the role of an older sibling while you get some very important things done.
6. ‘Converse’ with baby
Include a short bedtime conversation where your child can talk to the foetus in your tummy. Encourage your child to do so by ‘telling’ baby that it is bedtime soon, and give a quick rundown of what your child will be doing. Initially, it may appear to be strange for your child to be speaking to your tummy. With time, it will help to break the ice between your children. You may also encourage your child to rub your tummy and say a ‘Hello’, ‘Good-night’ to the baby, packed with hugs and kisses.
7. Praise your child’s growing independence
Nothing feels more like a big brother or sister than being able to do things for oneself. As your older child learns to accomplish simple tasks on their own, praise your child for it and remind them that they are going to be such a good sibling guiding and helping their new sibling.
There are various ways on how you can prepare your child for a new sibling. You can also speak to your friends or family to find out how they prepared the elder child for a new sibling. You may be surprised to find some gems, help or even family traditions that you would want to try for yourself. If you have other ideas, share them with us too!
By Ruth Mak