Preparing your pre-schooler for a new baby
Adding to the family? Congratulations! Making the leap from one little one to two is exciting to say the least. But it can also be a little concerning. How will you handle more than one? And how will your firstborn handle the news and the changes ahead?
It’s natural to be a little worried. Some children will react to a new baby with nothing but excitement and adoration. Others may not be too happy to relinquish their title as the only child. Whether your little one falls into the former or latter category, here are some tips on preparing him for the new addition.
Involve him as much as possible
There are a number of magical milestones that come with each trimester of pregnancy. And many of them can incorporate your first born, if he would like to be involved.
This can include the pregnancy announcement, the maternity shoot, the doctors’ appointments, even the birth if you would like to have a home birth and feel comfortable with this idea.
Giving your child ‘jobs’ to help you prepare for the new baby (and for when baby is born), can help give her a sense of pride, belonging and responsibility.
Giving her little jobs, like choosing bub’s new bedding, or holding mummy’s hand during an ultrasound, can help her feel like it is her baby too, which, essentially, it is. You may even want to give your little one the responsibility of choosing her baby sibling’s name… or perhaps just a nickname.
Focus on the positives
Having a brother or sister is awesome. You always have someone to talk to, to play with, to scheme against your parents with, to look out for you, and to grow up with. We adults understand this, but often we don’t start to love our siblings until we are a bit older and realise just how important family is.
Your pre-schooler may not love his little sister or brother right away, especially when she cries or commands your attention. But when preparing him for this new addition, focus on what he is gaining (not what he is losing, like his only child status). He’s gaining a playmate for life, a partner-in-crime, a person who will always be on his team, and, best of all, someone he can boss around.
One of the best ways to prepare your little one for a sibling is through story telling. There are a number of great books that explain the process and can answer some of those questions and concerns he probably has.
A number of television programs also focus on the relationship between siblings. When watching television with your pre-schooler, point out some of these relationships. Some good ones to add to your Netflix list? Charlie and Lola, Rosie and Caillou (if you can stomach the whinging).
If you have siblings yourself, tell stories about your own relationship with your brother or sister.
Sort out the bedroom dilemma before baby comes
One of the things you will need to decide on is where baby will sleep. Will your newborn have her own room, share a room with your older child or sleep with you? It’s important for your first born to understand that the baby is not ‘stealing’ his room. It is also important that he doesn’t come to resent the baby because she gets to sleep with mummy and he has to sleep alone.
The best way to keep bedtime civil and stress-free? Discuss what will happen beforehand. Ask your older child what he would prefer and explain to him that, no matter what the sleeping arrangements, mummy will always be there to give him a goodnight cuddle and a good morning kiss.
Throw him a promotion party
Parties fix everything! In addition to celebrating your next addition, celebrate your firstborn’s new role with a Big Brother or Big Sister party. Being promoted from the only child to the oldest child is a big deal! And it deserves cake.
Prepare through play
Adding a baby to the mix when playing Barbies or dolls is a simple way to help your older one understand that a new addition is coming. However, you don’t have to stick to dolls. You can incorporate a new baby into a number of different games and activities you and your little one do together. Create your family out of Duplo, play doh or bricks, complete with a mummy, daddy, older sibling and new baby.
Create a big brother/sister countdown
As your belly grows, get him excited for what’s to come with a countdown calendar. Similar to a Christmas advent calendar, let him countdown each day and offer a small reward (like a chocolate or a sticker).
And if bub doesn’t come on his due date? Triple the chocolate. One for him. Two for you.
Once you have gotten your firstborn used to the idea of being a big brother or sister, it’s time to focus on you.
Having more than one can mean you have another mouth to feed, another person to bathe and another wardrobe to wash.
Sure, you may be doubling the workload (and the exhaustion), but you can also expect double the cuddles, the kisses and the love.
Try not to be too hard on yourself. It can take time for the entire household to return to a sense of normality, to get used to the new addition and to comes to terms with the transition from one to two. Yes, it’s a lot to take on, but, trust us, it’s a transition that is well worth the extra loads of washing! Just you wait and see.
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