A new baby brings joy and happiness to the family. For your older child, having a sibling is a major transition in life. As delighted as you are to bring your newborn home, you may also feel anxious about how your older child will react.
You will need to prepare your older child for the new baby’s arrival early on so that they get used to the idea of having a sibling. Breaking the news to your older child when mommy’s tummy starts to show works well for most parents, as you can explain why mommy’s tummy is growing. If your child has questions, be honest and give simple answers.
Involving your older child in activities for your baby during pregnancy will make your child feel like they are a part of the huge change happening in the family. Small things like helping decorate the baby’s room or helping pick their name make your older child feel connected to the baby and promote better bonding between them.
Although ensuring a positive relationship between siblings between your baby and his/her siblings or other kids may seem difficult, you can help your little ones share a strong sibling bond by using some of the tips given below.
How do I encourage interaction between siblings?Not all older siblings react to a new baby’s arrival in a similar way. Younger toddlers might resort to acting like babies to get your attention, while older toddlers and kids may try your patience with tantrums or misbehaviour.
Under your supervision, you can nurture sibling relationships in the following ways:
- Allow the older child to look after the baby; let them spend time together.
- Typically, older siblings are curious about a new baby. Let your older child touch the baby gently.
- Be a good role model by giving your kids plenty of positive attention. This will teach them to be good to each other.
- By encouraging your children to take care of each other, they learn that they always have each other for help, support, and friendship.
- Plan a dedicated activity time for your children and let them play without instructions or interruption from you.
- Create a bedtime ritual for your kids. Encourage them to sing songs, read a story together, or hug each other before they sleep.
- Encourage the diversity of talents in the family. This will help your children understand that they are not in competition with each other.
How can I encourage my older sibling to share duties?While you share the news of the baby’s arrival with your older child, assure your older child that your attention and love for him/her will not change. You may reinforce the fact that he/she will be a big brother or sister. Help your child enjoy the new role by encouraging him/her to participate in activities such as the following:
- Involve the older child in decorating the baby’s room or buying clothes for the new baby.
- Teach your older child to hold the baby and praise him/her for being gentle and loving with the baby.
- Make your child a part of baby care by encouraging him/her to bring you a diaper or a burp cloth or choose the baby’s clothes for the day. If the baby is cranky, you may ask your child to entertain them by singing or dancing around.
- Include your older child in other baby care activities, such as getting things ready for the baby’s bath, bathing the baby, or helping with drying the baby afterwards.
- Encourage your child to help you with dressing the baby, burping after feeding, or pushing the carriage.
Helping with these activities reassures older siblings that they have a role to play in baby care, which will nurture the sibling love. Besides this, set up a ritual of reading or playing with your older child before the arrival of the new baby that should be continued even after the baby’s arrival.
It is normal for your older kid to feel left out with the new baby’s arrival. Set aside time just for you and your older kid. Cuddle with them and tell them you love them. The act reassures your older child that they will not be left out in the excitement about the new baby.
When your baby sleeps, take advantage of the opportunity for one-on-one time with your older child. Spend time playing games, reading, or talking to them. Encourage your child to express feelings about the new baby. Knowing that you have a special time for them will help ease any negative feelings or jealousy towards the baby.
By keeping things positive and giving your kids lots of love and attention, you can foster a positive sibling relationship.