I shared my own experience of preparing Liam for the arrival of our second child, Owen in this post. However, if your children will be closer than three years apart, the following tips may be more helpful. My good friend, Laura Rugh has graciously shared her mommy wisdom on this crazy transition. Thanks Laura!
1. Having a gift from new baby to give to big sister or brother.
Our pediatrician recommended this and it was a sweet moment in the hospital when the girls first met. Our daughter still refers to the bunny as her sister’s gift to her. It helped her to feel special and was a “peace offering” of sorts from the new baby.
2. Keep the routine the same for first child as much as possible.
Keep the school drop-off, naps and meal times as close to normal as you can. Throw in some special “dates” alone with Mommy and/or Daddy to get frozen yogurt or whatever gets them excited. Bedtime routines are particularly important to maintain in the first few months with a new baby in the house.
3. Let go of high expectations that your child will love his or her new sibling.
Honestly, she or he may completely ignore the new baby for a while and even act distant toward you. Try not to take it personal and to let them have their space to adjust in her own way. Never pressure them to help if they don’t want to and give them some space until they feel more comfortable participating.
4. Don’t be surprised if your oldest child regresses.
You could experience trouble with potty training or your child may all of a sudden act like a baby (ie. put a pacifier in their mouth). This is totally normal and again just a way that they are learning how to deal with a new sibling and baby around. It’s also a way that they are seeking attention since new baby seems to get a lot of it, especially at first! Be patient and give lots of grace to your first child since it is a major transition. They will come around! (Here is where the special “date nights” helped!).
If you could only see what went on behind the scenes during this photo session. Slightly less than idyllic. Photo by Mariel Leonard Garza.