Saturday, November 16, 2013

Preparing for Baby: Older Siblings

With our second baby boy arriving next month, we have been working hard to prepare our three year old. He is very excited at the idea of becoming a big brother, but we are still doing all we can to make him as ready for the change as possible. At 3, I don’t think he quite understands the concept of having a new baby in our home 24/7, but I think he will adjust fine and love his new brother.

As soon as I found out I was pregnant in April, my husband and I began researching and discussing ways to help our son get ready for the new addition. The following are things we have done, or are still doing, to hopefully make the transition to big brother as easy and fun as possible for our toddler.

How to Prepare Older Children for a New Baby

1. Don’t tell them right off the bat.
There is always the chance of miscarriage or other problems, but the risk tends to be higher in the first trimester. We didn’t tell our son about the new baby until I was 12 weeks along. I think that even at his age, he knew something was up since Mommy wasn’t feeling well and was much more tired than usual – still, we held the news until we felt more confident about the pregnancy.

2. Include them in as many decisions as possible.
We discuss baby #2 in our home A LOT. I try not to overdo it, because I don’t want our son to feel he’s being overshadowed by the pending arrival. However, when we have a decision to make, we do make it a point to include our older child in it. He has helped us pick out clothing, bedding, and toys for his little brother. When it came to the name, my husband and I narrowed it down to our top three choices and let our son pick his favorite – and that’s the name we are going with. I feel that letting him make these decisions with us keeps him in the loop and shows he will still be an important part of our family, even with another baby here.

3. Find sibling birth classes.
Unfortunately, there are none of these in our area (that I have found), but I have heard these classes can be very beneficial to younger children who will soon have a sibling. I can remember going to one when I was six and my mom was pregnant with my sister. These classes show kids how to feed the baby a bottle, change a diaper, and gently play with the new sibling.

4. Read books about big brothers and sisters.
My son loves to read, so we purchased a few big brother books on Amazon to share with him. One I highly recommend is “I’m a Big Brother” by Joanna Cole. It is become a favorite in our house and our 3 year old has been talking about the book even when we aren’t reading it. I think it will definitely help him get ready for his little brother.

Preparing your older child for a new baby is a very important process that you shouldn't ignore. You want to make sure they still feel important and vital in your life, even with all the changes. Depending on the age of your current child, they may not understand the entire ordeal of a new baby, but discussion, books, and decision making will allow them to learn more about the pending arrival and what they can expect.

Kecia Hambrick is a work at home mom, wife, blogger, and freelance writer from Georgia. She owns Southern Girl Ramblings, a popular parenting/lifestyle blog dedicated to helping moms survive post at a time! When she's not blogging, you can find her bowling, reading, or spending time with her family.