Adding another member to your family is a time of great joy and celebration. It can also be a very exciting, yet confusing time for existing family members, particularly those little ones who have been at the very centre of your attention up until now.
Author, educator and parenting specialist, Maggie Dent says preparation is the key to ease and avoid the angst of the siblings of a new arrival.
- Tell your child in advance that mummy will be busy but make sure there’s always a spare lap for them. When feeding, try to make sure there’s still room for the older sibling to sit on your knee so you can assure them you are still there and still their mother too.
- When it’s time to have the baby, make sure your older child is staying with a family member or friend they are familiar with and who they like. They must be comfortable, as separation and the feeling of abandonment can be very traumatic.
- Keep up the bed time ritual while you’re in hospital. If you have stories or a certain way of saying good night, say it over the phone while you’re away from them.
- Everyone will be giving presents to mum and baby. Maggie says it’s a great idea for the baby to give a gift to their older sibling. Choose a gift and present it to your child from their younger brother or sister so they know the new baby isn’t intentionally excluding them and that you are all part of the celebrations.
- This is a great time for the child’s other parent to step up and get involved by filling the gap left by mum while she focuses on the new baby and her own recovery.
- Get your child involved. Let them help with changing the baby and daily routines. Let them know that while their world has changed, they are still valued and all of the things that matter to them are still around.