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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

5 Ways to Make Your Older Child Feel Important Before and After the New Baby Arrives!

Each time my husband and I got pregnant, we did a few things to help our older child feel important and a part of the process. I’d like to believe that doing those things helped everyone adjust to the idea a little more quickly. We never had any signs of regression in any area from any of the older kids and no one has told us to this day that they felt underappreciated. Hopefully, my list can help you too.

1.When you’re ready to share the news with your older child, make it exciting just like you would if you told your parents, your best friend, or anyone else in your life. When we told our older three about their new brother, we brought home a CD with a tiny video of him and played it for them. My oldest son, nine at the time, caught on right away and was thrilled. He jumped up and yelled and handed out hugs (a little out of character for him as he’s not usually very showy with his emotions).

2.Refer to the baby as “our baby” or “your baby” often, even before he or she is born. This helps them to learn that the baby isn’t just mommy’s. The new baby is a part of the family and will be just as much in need of love and care from older sibs as from mommy and daddy. The older sibs offer something in the way of love that no parent can give their child. When my second was a baby, my husband and I would do anything we could to get a smile out of him; my older son would make a look or do something goofy and he’d laugh away. You could see by the look on their faces that there was a bond there already.

3.Take them along to appointments. This one can be a pain but it’s worth it. My older kids have almost always gone to doctor appointments with me. They get to talk to the doctor about becoming a big brother or sister, listen to the heartbeat, and watch me get weighed and measured. With this last pregnancy, my daughter came to all the appointments. At three, she weighed about 29 pounds. Each month, I’d get on the scale and watch that number jump 4 or 5 more pounds; she’d get on and it would stay the same. She was excited each time though. Lol.

4.Bring a gift to the hospital that is specifically from your new baby to your older child. When asked what the one thing we did to help them feel special after the birth of a new baby, this is the thing my kids bring up again and again. We always present the present to them as from new baby only for being such a good big brother and/or sister. They love it.

5.Let them help out at home. Whether it’s grabbing a water bottle from the fridge for mommy or getting a new diaper for the baby, there are ways that older sibs can and should help out when you get home from the hospital. I’ve even had my oldest help out with the middle two like getting them cereal in the morning or pouring drinks for them. They can get you a new shirt if your baby spits up on the one you’re wearing. The ways they can help are almost limitless.

Try out some of these ideas. If you’re pregnant now, start now. If you’re thinking about it for the future, then store these ideas away for later use. I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped our family!


Mama to a Sweet Thing said...

these are great tips. But I'm wondering what kinds of thing I can do to prepare my 14 month old daughter since she doesnt understand much of those types of things at the moment. I just found out im pregnant and so she will almost be 2 by the time new baby comes. Im not sure what a 2 year old is like. Any thoughts? Thanks

Kristi26 said...

Each of my children was only two at some point when I was pregnant. My oldest was two when we got pregnant with our second, my second was two when we got pregnant with our third, and my third was two when we got pregnant with our fourth. Two year olds are very smart and can understand more than you'd expect.

While you're pregnant, you can tell her about when she was in your belly and have her feel "her baby" kicking when you get to that point. I know she's only 1 at this point, but she will still have fun with it.

My "baby" is 20 months right now. If I were pregnant at this moment (and I'm not), I would talk to him very excitedly about some of the things that will change when the baby comes and about when he was in my belly. I'd take him to all of my appointments (though he'd have to sit in a stroller for any exams so he stayed out of trouble).

After the baby is born, you can still give her a "big sister" present from the baby. Another big thing we did while I was at the hospital was to have Daddy stay home with our other kids. This created the least amount of disruption in their lives. So if Daddy is somewhat hands-off at this point, it might be a good idea to get him involved in the routine now so it isn't weird for her later.

During feedings, maybe you could read books or watch a special video with her so she still feels like she's getting your attention, even though you're with the new baby.

If you haven't read the week on babywearing yet, go back and check it out. You should especially look at the days when we talked about the different types of carriers. Babywearing is a life saver when you are a parent to multiple children. It helps you give your baby the love and closeness he/she needs while making it possible for you to do the things you need to do for yourself, your husband, your daughter, and even on occasion, your house. Lol.

Parenting two is definitely an adjustment. You'll have to learn your own balance with them. If people offer you advice on it and it sounds good to you, try it out. If something doesn't work for you, don't feel bad about it. Parenting is one of those experiences that comes in a billion different packages and they're all wonderful.

I hope that helps! Good luck! :)