The arrival of a new baby can bring many changes to any family. Parents need spend a lot of energy on preparations, and after the baby arrives, much of the family’s attention involves caring for the newborn. All this change can be hard for older child to handle especially if they are still little, too. It’s common for them to feel jealousy toward the newborn and to react in different ways. As a mother, it is my job to help prepare my daughter for an addition to the family-a new baby sister. Now, I am not an expert as I am only 6 months pregnant and have not actually brought home the new additions, but I thought I would share my ideas, what I’ve done thus far and my additional plans for the future.
Here are five tips to facilitate sibling bonding instead of sibling rivalry, right from the start:
1. Cultivate a relationship between the older child throughout the pregnancy. My daughter knew that a future baby sister or brother was on the way before even a belly bump started to show. Now, she understand that her baby sister, Abrielle, is in mommy’s tummy. We regularly have conversation about how great of a big sister she will be and how she will be a great helper to mommy. My daughter often wants to hug and kiss her baby sister even though she is still in the belly and it warms my heart.
2. Encourage your child to connect with the baby by reading about being a big sister. I research many books and found these three books to be the most helpful. However, when doing my research I found hundreds of books.
- I’m a Big Sister by Joanna Cole. It’s simple, reassuring language and pictures, a little girl explains that, even though the new baby has brought changes, she is still a special and important part of her family. I especially liked that the book modeled appropriate behavior for older siblings, while acknowledging the realities that accompany the baby (it cries, it needs a lot of attention, and it doesn’t play).
- My New Baby by Rachel Fuller. This books portrays the various events that will take place once the new baby arrives. I think the illustrations in this book are cute and I am especially pleased that the new baby is shown breastfeeding twice in the book this is an awesome way to explain to my kiddo ahead of time about breastfeeding.
- Waiting for Baby by Rachel Fuller. Right now this is the best book because it starts to explain to your kiddo why she could no longer sit on your lap comfortably or why picking her up may not be a regular routine anymore.
3. Get any big changes out of the way well in advance of the birth, such as room changes, weaning and toilet training. She needs time to make these new routines into habits without associating them with the baby. Thankfully, I moved my older daughter into her big girl bedroom a month before getting pregnant because now she understands that the baby furniture is for her baby sister. Having a “Big girl room” was such a big deal that she did not care about her old furniture.
4. Keep your relationship with your older child as smooth and affectionate as possible, sidestepping power struggles and minimizing conflicts. She needs to be secure in your love to handle the arrival of a sibling with equanimity. Naturally she may be a little cranky and test you; she’s trying to be sure you still love her.
5. Lastly, I found that various locations around Tampa Bay offer classes for kiddos who are becoming big brothers and sisters. Some of the classes ask for the child to bring a stuffed animal to practice safe holding, diapering, and feeding techniques. Some classes even provide a hospital tour so that kiddos become familiar with the place where their mommy and sibling will be staying for a few days. St. Joseph Woman’s Hospital is who I registered with for the siblings course. However, after doing some research I found that most hospitals in the area offer similar course. Below are some of the links to some of the hospital that I found offer the course.
St. Joseph Women’s Hospital (Bay Care Hospitals)
What did you do to prepare your kiddos for a new sibling?