As you prepare to expand your family, you’ll probably feel decidedly more at ease than you did the first time. You’ve done this parenting business before and, although you’ll miss the sleep to which you’ve grown accustomed, you now know that you can handle it.
You’re, basically, a pro. Confident in your knowledge and ability, it can be easy to forget that, for your child, this is a first.
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They’re quite comfortable hoarding all of mom’s and dad’s attention and, for them, sharing your affections will be both a new and, if you’re not careful, unwelcome experience.
To make the expansion of your family a comfortable and joyful experience for all, you’ll need to do a little bit of work to acclimatize your little one to their new playmate. With effort, the transition will be pain-free, and your child will be happily snuggling up to their new sibling in no time.
This new sibling will irrevocably change your child’s life. Make this change more exciting by giving your child a special role in the welcoming of your new baby. Let your little one be the first visitor or perhaps the first one outside of Mom and Dad to hold the swaddled infant.
Talk about this important job in the long days leading up to the birth and emphasize the importance often so they truly feel that they are an integral part in the growth of the family.
Give A Gift
It may seem like a bribe – okay, it’s a little bit of a bribe – but giving your child a gift the first time they meet their sibling is a great way to make them associate this meeting with something wonderful.
Purchase a gift – ideally one that has something to do with their new role as big brother/sister – and stick it in your hospital bag. When you give it to your child, tell them it’s from their new little sibling.
Consider something that can also be sentimental, like a stuffed animal that comes in large and small allowing you to give the larger one to your older child and the smaller one to your new bundle of joy.
Ask Visitors To Share Their Affections
You’ll most likely welcome a host of visitors into your home after the arrival of your new baby. Each of them will undoubtedly be eager to hold the new infant, pinch their little cheeks and catch a whiff of them before they lose that fleeting new baby smell.
While this is understandable, it can be exceptionally hard on your existing child, who may be left to feel like leftover meatloaf from three days prior.
When arranging these visits, politely request that these visitors spend time socializing with your existing child as well so they don’t come to think that they are no longer of any interest to anyone now that there’s a newer model on the floor.
Praise Your Child For Kindness Towards Their Sibling
Particularly in the days immediately surrounding the addition to your family, acclimatizing will be difficult for your tyke. Show them that you really appreciate their efforts towards bonding with their new sibling who, right now, has almost nothing in common with them.
If you catch them tenderly touching your sleeping infant, lavish praise on them – before grabbing your phone and snapping a picture, of course, because that stuff is TOO adorable to miss!
Point Out Infant Acts Of Affection
Babies are hard to read. It may seem, particularly to a youngster, that the new baby does nothing but poop and eat – with fits of crying in-between. As a parent, however, you know that even the simplest looks from a baby can be truly meaningful.
Make it clear to your little one just how interested their sibling is in them. If you’re holding the baby and they keep smiling at their brother/sister, for example, mention that to your child. Say, “Boy, she really thinks you’re funny!” They will get a kick out of it and probably try to make your baby giggle even more.
Schedule Alone Time
Going from being an only child to part of a sibling set is going to be jarring, no way around it. To help your tot ease into their role in the new family dynamic, allow them periods of uninterrupted attention.
Take them out to get ice cream while your partner stays home with the new baby. If you’ve had a long night with the new little scream factor, have your partner take them to the zoo. These experiences will show them that they still matter and help them see that they’ll still get the one-on-one they cherish.