Hello! Lovely to see you here and congratulations on your exciting news! Are you looking for some tips on how to prepare siblings for a new baby? You are definitely at the right place! This is Part 2 of my very useful blog series, dedicated to preparing your older child to this massive transition to a big brother or sister. I can imagine you are feeling all sorts of emotions from excitement and anticipation to worry and concern. Well, I’m here to make things a little easier for you, with five more tips on preparing siblings for a new baby. Check out Part 1 here for some amazing tips too. As a quick reminder, we spoke about looking through old baby photos together, taking the sibling to see baby at the scan or showing the video of your visit, reading picture books about siblings and new babies, scheduling some special one on one time before baby arrives and including them in the preparations for all sorts of baby things.
Lots of changes coming!
It is so hard to imagine what life will be like with two or more kiddies! There is so much to consider, plan, prepare… I think every parent worries about how their older child or children will take to their new sibling! Will it start with cuddles and kisses and become a beautiful friendship straight away? Or will they decide they hate the baby and will take a long time to warm up? Either way, it will be new for all of you.
But don’t worry, I have lots of practical tips for you that actually WORK and WILL HELP you and your family with this new transition. What qualifies me to give this advice, I hear you ask? Well, I have been working as a family and newborn photographer in Edinburgh with parents just like you for over 8 years now. Talking to them about the ups and the downs, the challenges and the wins and everything in between. Plus, I have two beautiful children and have personally experienced this life changing transition. I was so grateful for the tips I received from friends and my clients, but now I also know that I could have known and done more. If only I knew that there were simple, effective tricks I found out about way too late, which would have made the transition easier. So here are your next five tips on how to prepare a sibling for a new baby!
How to prepare siblings for a new baby
1) Delay big changes in your child’s routine and expect regression
One of the best tips on how to prepare siblings for a new baby is to try and limit big changes within the three months in the lead up and the same after baby is born. So if you toddler isn’t potty trained yet, it might be a good idea to leave this adventure until a few months after baby is born. Not sleeping in their own bed? Make a plan to adjust the sleeping place so you all fit. Even without the added stress of change, dealing with big emotions often results in regressive behaviour. This can be so stressful for everyone. Limiting change and keeping things as normal and as familiar as possible will reduce the stress for everyone.
2) Teach them and practice asking for your attention quietly
Make a special sign or code that your child can use when they need you instead of calling you or shouting. Raising a hand is a good one but make sure to try and notice it! Putting their hand on your shoulder or leg is even better and will make them feel connected. Practise this a lot in the lead up to birth and make sure to acknowledge when they do this. Tell them you see them, respond to what they ask for and thank them for being so patient waiting. This will really help when baby is here and has just fallen asleep!
3) Explain that you will have more visitors than usually
Lots of people will likely want to meet your new baby. Plus the midwife and health visitor will be popping in frequently at the beginning. It can be so overwhelming to your older child. Especially when those people are mainly interested in you and your new baby, but not them! Talk about it in advance and set the expectations as much as possible. Can you plan for your child to have a special snack while you chat to the midwife? Can aunties and uncles bring something special and shower your older kid with attention when they come to visit? There will be a lot of waiting and being patient that will be expected from your older child. Try to include them as much as you can, and remember that setting the expectations and having a plan can really help.
4) Plan for help and support postpartum
This such an extensive subject in itself that it deserves a separate blog post, but in short – accept and seek out all the help you can get, and ideally make a plan before baby is even here. If anyone asks if you need anything – tell them, and tell them honestly! Can your extended family arrange to take your older child for a play date and a treat once in a while? Can your friend batch cook you some meals? Is the washing pile getting overwhelmingly big? When your baby is here, don’t hesitate to ask your visitors to help with chores and practical things, such as putting the washing on or washing the dishes. Everyone wants to hold the baby, but the real help is in the other, practical things. You can also consider hiring a post-partum doula (here’s a brilliant one – Sara!) – they are truly worth their weight in gold!
5) Expect the unexpected
With all the tips, asked for and unsolicited advice, life with a new baby and an older sibling will always bring unexpected challenges, adventures and joy. Whether or not you know all the tips on how to prepare a sibling for a new baby, try to simply embrace it, make the most of it and try not to fight it. Even if it feels impossible at times, even if it feels like this is both the most amazing and at the same time the worst time in your life, let it be and it will pass. Soon you will be looking back at this stage in your life and wonder where did the days, months and years go. I am not going to say enjoy every moment, because it is simply impossible, but do remember that this is just a stage that will soon be replaced with something new and likely amazing.
I hope you will find these tips on how to prepare siblings for a new baby helpful! Please do let me know what you think in the comments below. Would you add anything? Remember to have a look at the Part 1 of this useful blog series too! Share this post with those who might find it useful and look out for Part 3 of this blog series to learn more about how to prepare the sibling for a new baby once they are already born and then Part 4 to get to know a fantastic community of local businesses who would absolutely love to help you through this life changing transition.