If you are pregnant for the second or subsequent time, this pregnancy and your journey into motherhood are going to take a dramatic turn.
While your older children might help you with the newborn, looking after the baby when you do other chores or take a nap, your responsibility gets doubled in handling both your older children and giving birth to the newborn.
Parenting Tips to Prepare Your First Child (a Toddler or Preschooler) for a New Baby
Welcoming a newborn into the family is a special and exciting time, but it can also be a period of adjustment for older children especially if they are toddlers or preschoolers. While they may love the idea of having a baby at home, it can be tough and challenging as your attention will be divided, which might be difficult for them to adjust to.
- Prepare your child during pregnancy: Read stories about babies. Show your child pictures of themselves when they were very young. Let your child touch the baby bump to feel the new baby moving and kicking inside. Explain the family chart they might have studied in their school.
MOMS TIP - Gift them a doll or a soft toy to do a roleplay. Guide them to pat their doll to sleep, feed, comb etc.
- Involve them in preparations for the arrival of a new baby: Talk to your older children about the new addition before the baby arrives. Explain what will happen and involve them in preparations like setting up the nursery or choosing baby clothes. Let them shop for newborn clothes for their sibling.
MOMS TIP - Make them prepare some rhymes, lullabies, and songs that they will sing to the new baby. You can continue doing this even after the baby has arrived. Every newborn and toddler loves rhymes and lullabies.
- Maintain Routines: Keep established routines as much as possible. Predictability can help children feel secure amidst all the changes. Ask help from other family members or husbands to stick to the routine of your older child to avoid any disturbances in her life.
MOMS TIP - If you make your first child sleep every night, try to keep it the same after the baby has arrived. You can ask for family help and others to take care of the baby while you make your toddler sleep
- Assign Newborn Responsibilities to Your Child: Give older children age-appropriate tasks related to caring for the baby. This could be something simple like fetching diapers, choosing clothes, showing flashcards, singing lullabies, helping with gentle touch and play or getting rattles whenever baby cries.
MOMS TIP- Assign a task to your first child, from the very first day the baby has arrived to build a bond among them. It is such a relief if your elder one looks after your younger one.
- Spend Quality Time Together: Even though you'll be busy with the newborn, make sure to spend some dedicated time with your older children. Read a book together, play a game, or take a short walk - these moments are precious. Focus on quality time over quantity of time.
MOMS TIP - Fix one-on-one quality time with your first child. Later you can add your younger one to get involved to make it a quality family time
- Encourage Expression of Feelings: Let your children know that it's okay to feel a mix of emotions, including excitement, jealousy, or even frustration. Provide a safe space for them to talk about their feelings.
MOMS TIP - Start sharing "How are you feeling today?" every day irrespective of your busy schedule and start it during your pregnancy only.
- Praise your child's efforts: When your older children show kindness or helpfulness towards the baby, acknowledge and praise their efforts. Your child will feel loved and will be motivated to do more for the baby and you. After all, everybody needs appreciation.
MOMS TIP - If your older child, shows flashcards to your younger one, or shares her toys with the sibling, appreciate her efforts. Baby is very lucky to have you as a big sister – you’re so helpful’.
- Give something to the child when a younger one is receiving gifts: Have a few small presents on hand at home, anticipating that people will be visiting with gifts for the newborn baby. Toddlers often have a tendency to feel left out if they don't receive anything when others are getting gifts.
MOMS TIP- Plan a gift for welcoming newborn to home, and ofcourse for your older child who is becoming elder brother/sister for very first time
- Encourage your child to socialise and play with other children. This helps your child develop the social skills to have a good relationship with a new sibling. Perhaps you can join a playgroup, or arrange for extended family members – both children and grown-ups – to spend some time with your child.
MOMS TIP - If possible, spend some time with friends and their newborns. Your child will see that new babies are very sleepy and need a lot of care. Let your child know that the baby will be a separate little person with their own needs.
- Explain and establish Breastfeeding routine as earlier as possible: It’s common for toddlers and preschoolers to ask for a breastfeed when they see you breastfeeding new baby. There’s no right or wrong in this situation.
MOMS TIP - Establish a brastfeeding routine for both the babies together, for instance while you are breastfeeding, older one can with TV, or play game fo her choice.
Every child is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. Be patient, flexible, and attentive to your children's individual needs. Before your new baby is born, you can help your child feel positive about their new sibling. Despite preparation, they might feel overwhelmed or neglected for a while, but you can cope with the help of your family, partner, and your child's teacher.
LOVE AND SUPPORT ALWAYS...!!