Bringing home a spitting-new baby is the most glorious of occasions. The snuggles, the love! The soft blankets and teeny, tiny outfits. It is such a special time. But your toddler may not be as keen on the little bundle as you are. Your preschooler may be downright outraged that her place in the family has somehow, overnight been taken over by this squalling creature. Or it may be your elementary kids who just CANNOT STAND this new little thing. All while you're dealing with milk stains and sleepless nights. Sibling jealousy is the real deal, and we want to help alleviate as much as we can. (Bring back the babymoon!) We've outlined seven no-fuss ideas to help your children, big or small, adjust to new life with a new baby.
1. Talk, talk, talk.
No matter what ages your kids are, they will have concerns about what life will be like after baby comes, especially how they will fit into it. Answer all their questions honestly, and make sure to acknowledge any & every feeling they have. Do your best to accept even their most difficult emotions (remember they are not directed at you!), and reassure them like crazy that your love remains the.exact.same. Ask your own questions, too, you may think they would have. Lead out and stay open!
2. Enlist their help.
Baby's things will need readying, and little kids love to help. Give them a small screwdriver or wrench to help set up baby's crib. Allow them to haul baby's diapers up the stairs. Let them fold the teeny pants for the hospital bag. And while they're helping, give them all the kudos for being such a giant help! They will feel important and valued, which will go a long way to counteract jealousy.
3. Remember the power of the gift!
Baby will be showered with gifts, so don't forget to pick up a few small things to give your toddler or big kid, too. Playdough, a small game, or a coloring book and new crayons can keep your little one busy while you do baby things, at the hospital or when you bring baby home. Plus it will make her feel loved and included in all the celebrations surrounding her new sibling.
4. Honor their first impression.
Meeting your new sibling for the first time is going to be a big deal to your kiddo, and you can use that opportunity to infuse some sibling love and big-kid importance. Let your child meet the new baby without a room full of visitors, preferably all on his own with just you (and your partner) and baby. Keep the meeting straightforward, focusing on him and not baby (baby doesn't care!): “Do you want to sit up by mommy and hold your new baby sister? Wow! You're super strong! Your sister is really going to feel safe in your arms.” By keeping your words and attention less on baby and more on your kiddo, he will feel he hasn't been replaced and actually this may not be a bad deal after all, this big brother gig.
5. Put them to work.
Piggybacking on getting your child involved in baby readiness, you can keep them feeling valued by having them help with all the baby things you need to do once you get home from the hospital. Getting a glass of water, fetching a diaper, and even helping give baby a bath can all be small tasks your kids can do, which will involve them & keep them feeling valued. Use encouraging words, too: “Honey, can you get mommy a glass of water while I feed the baby? You are REALLY helping me! Thank you SO much!!”
6. Go on mini-dates.
One of kids' biggest concerns when a new baby arrives in the family is whether or not there is still time for them. Baby care obviously takes hoards of time, but channeling small pockets of time into special moments with your bigger kiddo will reassure her she has not been replaced. Reading to her while you feed the baby, sharing a square of chocolate while you watch a cartoon together, or even taking her along to the grocery store while baby stays home with daddy all communicate that she is loved and special, even with baby in the house.
7 . Keep your feelers up.
No matter what you do with your children (big and small) around the arrival of your new little bundle, make sure you are always tuning in and directing your attention toward your older children as well as baby (It's SO easy to get lost in the new baby love!), particularly in the first few weeks. When you do, you'll notice any down shifts in mood or be able to jump on jealousy before it blooms into full-blown naughtiness and aggression.
Welcoming a new baby into the family is truly a monumental event in the life of your family, and you want it to be as seamless as spit-up and poopy diapers can possibly be. By incorporating a few of these ideas, you will be able to stave off sibling rivalry and encourage the familial bliss you had pictured!