Helping your older child with their new sibling

 

  • Teach – show them how to interact with the newest family member.  Talk, demonstrate and guide them in the correct way to play.  Until you are confident that they have grasped this then don’t leave them alone together.  It’ll be hard to do but it’s necessary.
  • Hover – watch them when they are together.  If you feel your oldest is getting a bit rough then distract them rather than use a constant stream of ‘no!’
  • Teach gentle hands – using positive open language you can teach your oldest that being calm and gentle is a rewarding, loving thing.  So they can use open hands to rub the baby’s back or stroke their head.
  • Demonstrate – If you are calm and gentle and loving then that is what they will see so they will want to mimic your behaviour.
  • If they decide to act up and be a baby Let them be a baby!  they may need to just have that phase of being cuddled and cosseted to help them move onto the big brother/sister phase that they are in!
  • If routines are going to change once the baby is born change routines BEFORE the baby arrives! so if for example dad will be getting breakfast once baby is here – have him do it before the baby arrives so that the change has happened and is not because mummy can’t anymore.
  • Be Supportive – rather than saying ‘I bet you hate the baby!’ or ‘if we didn’t have the baby we could….’ acknowledge the fact they are now sharing your attentions and that you miss time with them.
  • Give Extra Love – Make time for cuddles and chat, story reading, bath time, one on one time.  They will be naughty but that’s them being a child, not a sign of something more. Maybe put the baby to bed a bit earlier so you can do story time.
  • Tell them you love them.  If they are worried that you won’t have enough love for them then light a candle and tell them it is your love for them.  Then light another one so they can see them both burning brightly.  It should help them understand that you have enough love to go around.
  • Presents! buy them a present from their sibling.
  • Being big has its advantages so stress that – think of all the toys they can play with and the food they can eat which the baby can’t (yet!).
  • Get visitors to help ask them to make a fuss of your oldest first. Most people will head straight over to the baby and the oldest child can feel left out.  It’s ok to get friends and family to help by making a fuss of the oldest and asking them to introduce them to their new baby.  
  • Ask them to help –  keep the baby changing gear in one place so they can grab it for you.  Ask them to help at bath time or getting pyjamas ready – children love being involved, especially if you praise them afterwards for their assistance. However this is not one to be forced so when they want to help encourage it but don’t put any pressure on them.  
  • Make them feel special –  your first born may have been a crier or slept through the night straight away or never had colic or just wanted to be with you.  You have given birth to a new human being and the differences will be apparent pretty quickly – don’t compare them (thats hard to do by the way!)
  • Keep hospital visits short and when your oldest child arrives try and have your arms empty so they can give you a cuddle straight away.  They will have missed you and need that reassurance.
  • Do what works for you and your family