You have spent the last few years with your child as the absolute center of your universe and primary occupant in your heart. The love you have for your child is something that you never expected, as a love that strong is almost incomprehensible until you have experienced it first-hand.
Now, the time has come when you have decided to bring another child into your family, and while you are overjoyed with this newest addition, the love you have for your first-born is so all-encompassing that you can't imagine being able to provide that same love and attention to another child. You begin to panic a little (pregnancy hormones likely not helping matters!).
Do. Not. Panic. You will absolutely be able to love and care for both children equally, and you will come to know that all-encompassing love for your second child just as much. The best way to navigate this whirlwind of emotions is to ensure that you have a plan to help your first-born adapt to life with a new sibling. The better prepared they are, the better they will cope with the changes, and the better you will feel.
10 Talk About It With Your Child Early On
As much as you might be tempted to hold off telling your child for a while, it is not recommended that you do so. Despite any requests you might make to other people to keep the exciting news under wraps for a while, there's likely going to be someone who forgets and says something to your child about becoming a big brother or sister. You don't want that to be the way they find out this news.
Let them know that there will be a new baby joining your family, and be prepared to answer any of their questions in an age-appropriate way. Let them know how much you love them and how excited you are for them to have a sibling, someone to play with and someone they can help to care for. Allow them time to digest the news, they may not react right away, or they may be full of questions and comments.
9 Read Books About A New Baby
Books are a great way to help your child understand what it means for a baby to be coming, and depending on how old they are, many books could help to answer some of their questions too. Choose some good books for their age, and share them during your bedtime stories, allowing time for any questions that may come up.
The best books are ones that focus on the excitement of a new sibling and the role that an older sibling can play. Books that talk about how an older sibling can help out with the new baby can help to give your little one a focus and an understanding of the new role that they will be taking on.
8 Be Honest (In An Age-Appropriate Way)
Depending on how old your child is, they may have a lot of questions about the exciting news. It may lead to questions about where babies come from, or they may just have questions about what their position in the family will be once baby arrives. Some kids may have the worry that they are being "replaced", and it is important to reassure them that they are still very much valued members of the family.
If they are wanting to know where babies come from, answer them in a way that you are comfortable with and that their minds can comprehend for this age. Reassure them about any worries they might have, and let them know that you are always there to talk to if they need you.
7 Involve Your Child In Some Of The Planning
To help build your child's excitement about the new baby, let them be part of the process and planning. Ask for their feedback on decisions (within reason) and let them help to choose certain things for the baby.
If you are buying things for the baby, get them to help pick out colors or styles, or ask them to choose some cute baby dishes, etc. Involving your older child in the planning and preparations will help to build their excitement and help them to feel like they are an important member of the family, helping to get things ready for the new baby.
6 After Baby Arrives, Do Something Special
It may seem like a monumental task to manage planning something special with them while you're recovering from giving birth and adapting to life with a newborn again. But it doesn't have to be anything outrageously complicated, just something to let your little one know how special they are to you.
You could plan a tea party in your bedroom while the baby is napping. Go for a walk to the park together and have fun swinging on the swings together. Spread a blanket out in the backyard and lie on it together, watching the clouds go by.
5 Keep Routines As Regular As Possible
Kids thrive on routine, as they provide structure and stability in their lives and help them to feel safe and secure. Even though children may fight against them at times, they rely on these routines for their sense of security and understanding their place in the world.
When a big event happens in their lives, like a new baby joining the family, it will be even more important than ever to maintain routines in the house as much as possible. Your routine will be changed quite a bit to begin with, but trying to keep some of your toddler's routines in place will help them to maintain their sense of security.
4 Set Up Special Time With Both Parents
One way to take away your first-born's feelings of jealousy when you are busy with your newborn is to have them spend some special time with both parents, on their own. Have your partner take your little one outside for a walk, play a game together, or just cuddle on the couch.
If your child is used to you reading to them at bedtime, but you are now busy nursing your newborn, have your partner read to them while you nurse the baby and put them to bed. When you're finished, go into your child's bedroom for a goodnight cuddle, and they will be left heading to slumberland with feelings of coziness, having had a nice dose of attention from both parents.
3 Expect Regressions In Your Child's Development
Depending on how old your first-born child is when your second baby comes along, plan for some regressions in their development as they cope with the huge changes in their life. Handle this with patience, and allow them time to work through the regression on their own time.
If you were working on getting your little one into their own "big kid" bed or bedroom before your baby arrived, you want to try to do that several months before your due date. This way, they are not left feeling that they are being kicked out of their favorite room. Get them settled in their new room and excited about their big kid bed well before your baby arrives. That way, if there are regressions in their sleep habits, it hopefully won't be too difficult to manage.
2 Have Special Time Every Day
No matter what, always find small moments in the day to cuddle, hug, kiss, and love on your first-born. They will need constant reminders of how loved they are and how important they still are to you.
You will be very busy with your newborn, and you won't have a whole lot of extra time or energy to do big events or playtimes, but it is easy to work in extra cuddles and kisses throughout the day. It could even just be 10 minutes of one-on-one playtime together, where you build a puzzle, read some books, or play dolls. Just so they know that you are thinking of them and that you still cherish that special time together.
1 Give More Responsibility To Your Older Child, Praise Them For Being A "Big Kid"
This idea will have to be done in whatever way is best for your child, because it will depend on how old they are, and how they are handling the addition of the new baby. Some little children revert to wanting to be babies again, when they see how much attention the newborn is getting. It may make it more challenging to try to emphasize what a "big kid" they are, they might not be ready for that.
However, if your little one is the type that is proud to be an older sibling and takes their role quite seriously, praising them for things they're doing as a big kid now will make them feel confident and proud of their abilities.