When you have an only child, it may be a bit difficult for them to have the attention taken away when a new sibling is introduced. It is a huge transition for the entire family, but it might have the biggest impact on your only child as this is all new territory for them. Welcoming a new baby to the family means big changes for everyone and we have some tips when preparing your only child for a sibling.
How to Prepare Before the New Baby Arrives
Before the new baby arrives, you can help prepare your firstborn for what is about to come. Let’s be honest, at the end of the day you can only prepare so much, however, little things will only help make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone involved.
Educating them on the baby in the belly, giving them (age-appropriate) information on how the baby is developing (everyone loves to know what size of fruit the baby is!), is a great way to include them in the transition to being a sibling. If you have a name for the baby, start using it and having your oldest refer to the baby by his or her name. Read books together that are based around becoming a sibling, while being cognizant that they are still the baby of the home.
Set yourself up for success by preparing them to help change diapers/soothe a baby with a doll. Show them where the new baby is going to sleep, have them help you go through baby items and clothes. You might be surprised at how much your oldest will want to help out and prove they are the older sibling. At the same time, don’t be surprised if it all gets too overwhelming for them and they start acting like a baby again.
Read More: How Long to Breastfeed Your New Baby
Giving Your child a Gift
If you remember after your firstborn arrived, your house was probably overflowing with gifts, every type of baby item, flowers, and well-wishers who just couldn’t wait to see the new baby. Although the second baby does not always garner as many gifts, the attention is still focused on the new baby and postpartum mama.
At times, when everyone is coming and going, bringing stuff for the mom and new baby, your first child might feel left out. For their entire life, all of the focus was on them and only them. Up until the new baby arrived in the house, they never had to share mom and dad or anything for that matter. It is an adjustment for them and you as you learn to divide your time as that was never the case before. If it would be beneficial, you can even have the gift be from the new baby to make it a little more special.
Preparing for the Arrival of the New Baby
Set aside time for just you and your firstborn, true uninterrupted and planned special time. Some things might be a little easier the second time around as you know what to expect with a new baby. Setting time aside to prioritize with your firstborn is extremely beneficial for you and for them. It doesn’t have to be anything big, you could simply go for a walk, go to the park, run an errand together or sneak out for an ice cream treat.
The goal is to show your first that they are still a priority and you also miss one-on-one time with them. You can even send dad out for a walk with the new baby so you can just be at home together. This will give them a chance to get uninterrupted mommy time, maybe get some cuddle time in, or play a game that they have been wanting to play, or maybe just time to chat about what they want to talk about.
Even if you are able to get away and get some one-on-one time with your firstborn, it is also important to have other outlets for them. Have their aunt or grandparents come pick them up for an afternoon. If you don’t have family nearby, get a sitter who can come over just to play with them while you and the new baby take a nap. Or maybe if you have neighbors that have children of similar ages, utilize them, most people are willing to go above and beyond to help a mama out after a new baby arrives.
Helpful Tips for New Baby
The new baby is bound to be a little easier (in some ways) and maybe a little harder than you expected. The second time around you know what to expect, but there is a sibling in the mix which changes things up a bit. Now, you have a newborn to take care of, heal from labor and delivery and attend to your only child who has always been your first priority. This is an adjustment for all and some slight changes can help you both during this time.
Instead of saying what they can’t do, tell them what they can do. For example-Don’t touch the baby’s head! Instead-Touch her foot this way, or she really likes it when we sing her this song. It is so hard for the sibling to constantly be told what they can’t do (which is most things) verses what they can.
Have your firstborn, help as much as possible. Even if you don’t need the “help”, it helps them understand that they can be helpful and they are the big sibling which means they can do stuff for the new baby. From getting you a fresh diaper, singing to the new baby to distract her, even just showing the new baby their toys during tummy time, or keeping an eye on the baby while you run to the restroom. It will give you a little reprieve and help them feel involved.
Show that the new baby doesn’t always come first (even if they kind of do!). Say to the new baby “Okay, I am going to set you down now and go to your big brother or big sister and I will be right back”. Use the same words when you go to attend to the new baby. Might not seem like a big deal to you, but verbalizing that you are now shifting your attention to the older sibling will really help them out.
Read More: Benefits of Babywearing For Young New Moms
A new baby is a beautiful blessing and can also cause quite a disruption to the family flow. It can be overwhelming for everyone, especially the new older sibling. During this time, use these little tips to make the transition as smooth as possible, and remember to give yourself grace as well. Not only is your oldest learning how to be a big sibling you are learning how to be a parent to more than one child, which is a game-changer and their bond will be an amazing thing for you to experience.
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