Last week I shared a little about how hard it was for some of my kids to manage the transition of bringing a new baby home. You can find that post here: Preparing Older Children for New Baby This week I am sharing with you some of the tips I learned to help make that transition a little bit easier.
As I said last week each child is different, but one thing that is pretty common is that children will have questions. It is our job to answer those questions.
My children always had questions.
The kids didn’t always ask those questions, but it was clear to me afterwards by their body language and reactions that these questions were lurking just under the surface.
- Does Mommy still love Me?
- What is going to be different? Will I still have my room? Will this baby take my things?
- Why does Mommy spend so much time with the baby?
Some of the things that you must do to prepare your older children is to find out what questions are beating about in those little heads. The children themselves may not know their own questions or how to verbalize them until after the baby is home. Maybe not even when you are all home. I encourage you to take time before baby comes to ask your child what they are thinking and learn how much they understand. Get alone time with that child. Take them out to supper and really dig around to learn what they are thinking.
Taking that step one key to helping your child prepare for what is coming. The younger the child is the harder this may be, but there are ways to communicate to younger children what is about to happen. For example setting up the baby bed and pretending a baby is there. Using a baby doll and talking about the new baby brother or sister that is coming and will be sleeping here.
How to Help Older the Older Children
- Talk to the kids before the baby comes. Talk with them about their new responsibilities, about Mommy’s new responsibilities. What will the house be like?
- Communicate your love for the older child. What is their love language? Is it quality time? Then take some extra time one-on-one with that older child before baby comes. Is it gifts? Then buy that older child a special gift the day the baby arrives. Study your older child and find out what will communicate love to them in the best way. And do the same before and after the baby arrives.
- Introduce the baby early. Bring the older kids to the hospital, allow them to see the new one, to hold the baby if possible.
- Show the older children pictures of themselves as babies. Bring out the hospital pictures from when they were born. Talk about what life was like when they were a little baby.
- Assign the older ones jobs they can do to help take care of the baby. Children love to feel needed and responsible. One of the big ways I was able to connect with my oldest after her baby sister arrived was by having her bring me diapers when I needed to change the baby.
- Be very intentional about focused attention with the older child while the baby is sleeping. Make sure you are being intentional about connecting with the older child. I know you are tired, but it is still vitally important that you as the mom do what is necessary now. They need you just as much as they did before and maybe even more. Giving them extra time and reassurance will help them to understand that they are loved just as much as before the baby arrived.
I made a lot of mistakes over the years. Each time we brought a new one home I learned something else. One big lesson I learned was that I didn’t really know what I was doing! Each child is so different and they all respond to things differently. It is important to take the time to know your child. I realize it can be hard to really take enough time because of work schedules, activity schedules, and mom’s energy level, but growing a family has some pretty vital responsibilities and I encourage you to take the time that is necessary to know what your children need.