4/19/17

PREPARING YOUR CHILD FOR A NEW BABY


Having a new baby is such an exciting time in life. Nine months of joy and anticipation, and maybe a little anxiety and restlessness too if you're anything like me! These tiny little people sure are lovable but sometimes it can rustle feathers when a new babe comes home and everything shifts a little. I think the addition can be the hardest on the little ones, especially if you have a babe who is still nursing or co sleeping and super attached to mama. I had a couple who were this way and even though there were a few trying days (and nights!) in there, I really love how close they are now. I've learned a few things through our experiences adding new babies and I can definitely say the transition got a little easier each time. Here are a couple ways I prepared our little ones for the addition of a new baby.

Involve Them In All The Baby Preparations

There is so much to do when getting ready for baby, whether you are decorating a whole nursery or just setting up a cot and washing little linens. We let the kids help with everything from buying baby clothes and folding blankets to organizing the diapers and picking out little baby toys. I think it gives them a sense that it truly is "our baby". Plus being involved during the pregnancy helps them look forward to the new arrival just as much as we are!

Encouraging Independence

I am a big advocate of attachment parenting and all the baby wearing and co sleeping that goes along with it. However, it can be hard to juggle several little ones wanting to nurse or be held all at the same time! We've found ourselves about to welcome a new babe while still having a toddler sleeping in our bed more than once and I found it helpful to start giving them more options for independence a few months before the baby was born. Things like setting up a new toddler bed for them with linens they picked out, or a new little desk they can enjoy coloring at. Some new rags and a squirt bottle of water so they can help "clean". Or their own little basket and doll to care for. Children have a strong need to feel important in the family and by having their own place and responsibilities we can help them not feel like they're being brushed aside when a new baby arrives. 

Quality Time

As tiring as those first few weeks can be, I've always made a priority to spend quality time with my other children each day. For my toddlers, they are almost always with me, so little things like snuggling up to me while I nurse the baby, or lying in bed with me while I'm resting and watching their favorite movie. Reading them a bedtime story after the baby is already swaddled and fast asleep.  I lavish them with hugs and kisses! With older children, this can be chatting over breakfast or spending the baby's nap time doing something fun. Making those simple little connections throughout the day help keep those relationships close even while I'm devoting a larger part of my day to the new babe. 

Caring For The New Baby

This is especially important and fun! Children naturally have a nurturing instinct and it's so easy to guide that to helping to care for their new little sibling. We let our little ones help bathe the babies, get them dressed, swaddle them, anything I am doing, they can help. I use a soft voice to say "gentle gentle" when they need a little reminder to be gentle and calm with the new babe and we use the term "baby" in front of anything we want them to do quietly. Like asking them to take baby steps or sing baby songs when it's nap time. This helps them not associate the new baby with not getting to do  the things they're used to. They're even allowed to play the drums whenever they want but if the baby is sleeping, I will  ask them to play "baby drums" and they'll sit there quietly tapping a beat like its a fun game. 

Activity Basket

Of course there are always those times when your hands are full and you're juggling the laundry and baby and need to occupy the two year old for a few more minutes (FYI this is my life the last 4 years). To help prepare for those long days and sleepless nights I always put together a new little activity basket for the kids when I was about to have another baby. Simple things like some new pens and activity books, new paper to color on, modeling clay, stringing beads, board books. Things that can hold their attention for a bit and make them feel special when mama's hands are full. It never hurts to be prepared!


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