The sudden appearance of a new baby can be rough on other children in family. Daily routines are disrupted and suddenly mom and dad are too busy to pay attention to older siblings. Worst of all, new baby is instant star of family - center of attention. The adorable baby is big attraction for everyone from mom and dad, to visiting relatives, to casual acquaintances bumped into at mall, right down to strangers on street. Everyone is talking baby talk, cooing at new baby, and making a fuss over newborn. The older kids may feel shunted aside and resentful. This is especially true for displaced former baby of family.
Given these natural reactions, anything that you can do to prepare your other children for new arrival will ease transition. Everything you can do to involve your kids in advance and to get them to actually look forward to birth will make a big difference in how they experience it. It might even help establish a stronger brother or sister bond with new baby that will contribute to lasting closeness of a positive sibling relationship.
Here are some simple ideas that expectant parents might try, to smooth road ahead for their other children. Most are common knowledge or simply common sense, but sometimes too easily forgotten amid all excitement and activity surrounding birth of a new baby. A few might be new ideas that are worth a try. A little advance thought and preparation may go a long way towards making "blessed event" a blessing for ENTIRE family. Hopefully, you'll be inspired to try some of these ideas, so here goes.
Let your other kids in on secret as soon as pregnancy is confirmed, well before it is obvious just by looking at mom. Even with your youngest children, try to give them some understanding of changes that mom is going through and what they mean. Check out your local public library. It should have books geared to all different ages that can explain, in terms that children can understand, biological process of having a baby. Picture books about baby animals may also help crystalize concept and relate it to something your kids have already experienced, like watching newborn kittens, for example.
The library or local bookstore should also be able to guide you to works of fiction, including picture books for preschoolers, that focus on arrival of a new baby in family and such issues as jealousy and feelings of neglect. Quiet parent-child story reading times can provide an ideal opportunity to prepare young children for changes that are on way and to reassure them of their own importance and irreplaceable position in family. Discuss things openly and answer your kids' questions.
Encourage your children to think about life with new baby and how family routines will be altered. Coax your kids to develop their own lists of things that will be fun about having a new baby in house - for example, they can push baby carriage and help dress baby. Help them think about all things that they'll be able to share with and teach baby as he or she grows up and how important their role will be as a "big brother" or "big sister".
At other times, let them focus on coming up with ways that they can help care for baby or have them think of things they can do around house to ease burden on mom and dad. Also, take this opportunity to make your kids aware that babies require gentle handling and a quiet environment. You might even use a baby doll with your younger children to role play baby's diaper changing and feeding.
Nurture feeling that every family member is of equal importance and that each occupies a special niche and has special contributions to make. No one is being replaced by baby and family cannot be whole unless EVERYONE is a part of it. If your kids internalize this belief, you may be able to avoid some of trauma and understandable resentment toward this little stranger who has stolen mommy and daddy's hearts. The better your children are prepared for impending event, better they'll be able to cope with it emotionally.