Q: Do you have any advice to get my children prepared for bringing home a new baby?
Nothing truly prepares an older sibling for the arrival of a new baby, but a little groundwork can help ease the transition.
Throughout the course of your pregnancy talk to your older children about the new baby who will be born. Keep things light and positive, and remind your older children that the new baby is not a replacement, but an extension of the family. This can be a fun time to get out photos of your older child when he was a baby.
Let your older child know that she can be a “good helper” to you when the new baby is born, but also reassure her that the new baby will not be her job or responsibility.
Well meaning friends and family may tell your older child that he has to keep his toys put away lest the baby choke on them or wreck them. This kind of advice is premature and tends not to be helpful. Try to play it down and perhaps gently remind your friends that you are trying to make this new addition a positive thing.
You should absolutely allow your older child to visit you and baby in the hospital, but try and arrange the visit for when you have had a chance to rest a bit. If at all possible, you do not want your child to think that the new baby has made you “sick”. Also, be prepared that the hospital may not allow young siblings to visit during cold, flu or RSV season. By that same token, older siblings up the risk of RSV significantly, so I always teach my older kids to tickle baby’s feet rather than touch a face or even kissing the face.
Once baby comes home, set aside a basket for the older kids that can be easily accessed during feeding time. I usually kept some non-messy treats, fun books and little toys in the basket so that when I was feeding Baby, they were entertained. You will find that your older child generally really feels the need for your attention most when you sit to feed the new baby.
Overall, keep things light, positive, and give everyone time plenty of time to adjust!
You can reference my post on baby etiquette at dakotapam.com/baby-etiquette
Pam is a wife, social media coach, professional fundraiser and mother to six children ranging from 21 to her 7-year-old twins. She blogs at dakotapam.com. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.