Thankfully, we haven’t ever had to deal with bad attitudes, lots of tears or anything negative when bringing home a baby in our family. However, since we will be bringing home our fourth child in just a few days, I thought it quite appropriate timing to share some tips with you on how to transition, or at least how to prepare the best you can for the transition, if you ever find yourself in my shoes.
How to prepare siblings for a new baby:
First and foremost, pray. I’m sure you have been praying for that little bundle growing inside you since the day you found out, but have you been praying for the other little ones that need you daily? Praying for them to transition smoothly? To love their new sister or brother and to have no resentment? Don’t just pray for your other children, but take time to pray over them and in their presence as well.
Do not sugar coat things. I would not say it’s going to be the same; I would tell them exactly how it’s going to happen (in an age-appropriate way, of course). Children thrive on and find comfort in knowledge, so the better the picture you can paint for them about what life will look like after the new arrival, the better they will be able to adapt to and embrace their new sibling.
Get a Big Sister or Big Brother book. There are many great books that document your kids’ new lives as a big sister or big brother; some can even be personalized with their names in the story. A good “big sibling” book is something you can read before the baby’s arrival or after while you are nursing or having one-on-one time.
Another great book option for older siblings is the book One Hand Two Hands by Max Lucado, which shares the importance of helping out and that God has blessed their little hands to do big things. It’s a fun little rhyming book too!
Get a “baby” for your baby! You can demonstrate to your children how to take care of the baby and treat the baby very special with a baby doll. My youngest has a Bitty Baby from the American Girl store now and she loves it! Allow the baby doll to go with you everywhere, even to the point where you let your child put his or her baby doll in the real baby’s setting every once in awhile, like its car seat or high chair.
One final note: if the siblings are older than say three or four, be careful what you and your spouse say about the impending arrival around them. If you are scared or anxious about delivery or bringing home the child, be sure to not share those feelings without consideration of being overheard. Kids might worry about their mothers being in pain, or something happening in childbirth (too many Disney movies where the mother is not around!) so make sure to remind them of the confidence we all have in Christ!
But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory. – Hebrews 3:6
How have you helped older children prepare for the arrival of a new baby?