1. Try not to be holding the new baby
An idea is to let an older child discover the baby for themselves; perhaps finding them in a cot. If possible get advance notice of their arrival and put your new baby down beforehand; you can place the baby safely in their crib or Moses basket so your loving arms can embrace your older child/children and then they can ask about the baby when they are ready.
2. Understand them
It’s a very exciting time for your toddler or older child to be having a brother or sister, but they also need you more than ever as they will have lots going on in their mind and won’t always be able to express their emotions.
It is very normal for a toddler to be a bit upset when a new baby arrives home so don’t be unduly worried if this is the case. It could result in eating struggles, different behaviour, regression back to being a baby … or they may sail through the whole thing without a problem. It’s important to just go with them and let them deal with it their own way, with as much love and help from you as you can.
3. Be sensitive
Reassure your child they will always be your baby too and encourage them to talk to you about their feelings if they are old enough; if they aren’t just ask them questions.
4. Keep to routines
This is not always easy but where possible read the same amount of stories at bedtime, give them the same bowl, watch their favourite programme with them, have those morning cuddles in the bed and generally try and keep as near to the way life was before the new baby arrived. This will add less stress to the new life you now have as a bigger family.
5. Involve them
But don’t push them. Ask older siblings what they think the baby might need as this will help their self-esteem. You could ask if they would like to help change a nappy, etc. but if they don’t want to that’s fine; it might be they are happy doing whatever it is they are doing at that moment, but you gave them the chance to be involved.
Children LOVE hearing stories about themselves when they were younger; maybe if you get time beforehand you could have a ready prepared list somewhere to secretly remind you.
7. Quality time
Make sure your child has lots of this, try even finding 10 mins with no distractions and put your phone and worries away, they will revel and thrive on this.
8. Big brother/sister box
Perhaps prepare a new gift from you as parents, thanking your older child for being such a wonderful older brother or sister. Fill it with special things; books, news pyjamas or treats that you know they will like.
9. Stretch yourself
Make your arms big enough to cuddle more than one child, wrap them in and start a long tradition of sharing,
Babies needs are much easier to satisfy than older children so, when possible, try and spend precious time with other members of the family.
Anyone coming to meet your new baby is obviously an important part of your life, and close to you. Encourage them to focus just as much on any other children you have at home, your baby won’t know! Can your other children help to open a present, would someone read a story or play with a sibling? Visitors would be happy to, I’m sure, and it will make your other child feel very special.
12. A present
Could you buy a small present from the new baby to give to their sibling? It doesn’t have to be anything big, as it’s the thought that counts, and the older child will be thrilled, especially if it’s something along a theme of what they love!
13. A jar
Would they like to help? They might feel less left out if they are involved with their new family member. Suggest things or equally give them the option of ‘Really helping’ by going to get a nappy, or similar, if they are happy to do it.