As my belly grows, so does Cam’s interest in what is going on. At 21 months he is not yet able to articulate his feelings, but it is apparent that he knows something is changing. I called upon my village of moms who have introduced new babies to older siblings to provide some tips.
- Our nanny is an integral part of our daily life & family dynamic. If you have caregivers that you use regularly, utilize them to implement your plan so that everyone is consistent in their calling attention to the baby. Ask your nanny for their advice – chances are they have been through this before, where we are the newbies!
- Make certain to manage your nanny’s expectations as well. How long will you be on maternity leave for & what will their responsibility be during that time, in relation to the newborn? How soon are they comfortable handling two (or more) children? How will their salary change based upon increased responsibilities?
- Be sensitive to the change for your nanny. They have spent a great deal of time building a bond with the older child. Expect that they will have an adjustment period as well, should the older child we in a preschool program or daycare part time when the baby arrives. They will also need time to bond and will miss their toddler friend as they graduate to activities outside of the home.
Tips on how to introduce the new baby:
- When the older child comes to visit you at the hospital, ask that the newborn be in the nursery. Then, as a family, go to meet the baby in the nursery and let the older sibling wheel them back into the room. This way, when your child sees you in the hospital your lap is still for them initially
Purchase a step stool for the toddler that they can decorate with stickers, etc and can stay next to the changing table. Allow the toddler to then watch or “help” with diaper changes.
The instinct when the older child hits the baby or is too aggressive, is to address the behavior and try to redirect. My good friend described explaining to her daughter that their responsibility as a family was to keep the baby safe. However, she was then given the hint to give all the attention to the baby when this happened. As soon as her daughter’s behavior did not warrant attention, she stopped behaving aggressively toward the baby.
Amanda Ciolino, Boston Sensible Specialist & mother to three boys under four (!!), suggests the following:
- Have dad/significant other go home after baby is born to keep your routine intact. Having one parent at home will help to normalize things & not throw off the older siblings’ world.
If baby is crying and you are helping your older child, “tell” the baby that you are busy with the older child. This will show the older child that the s/he is still very important to you (since you’ll often times ask your older one to wait while you help baby!)
If possible, have your older child create something for the baby for when they visit the hospital or come home. Getting them excited before the baby comes is helpful!
Erica Tuscano, Dallas Sensible Specialist & mother to two (who were under two), suggests the following:
- Plan special outings with Child #1! Even if it’s just a quick walk for coffee and a muffin, or a new music class you attend together each week, talking up the time as just “Mommy and me” makes a big difference.
- Create “Table Time” at home while the baby is napping. Designate an activity book, art project or recipe to make at the kitchen table together. It’s helpful to allow child #1 to choose from a selection of activities.
- If the baby is going to be moving into the nursery and your older child is getting a new space, let them play a part in selecting the decor – create a Pinterest board to control the options!
- Get Daddy in the mix. If your toddler is missing Daddy during the day, be sure you’re ready to stay on full time baby duty for the first 40minutes to an hour after dad gets home from work. Conversely, if your toddler is longing for more time with Mommy, hand a clean, fed newborn over to Daddy and head to the park for 1:1 time.
- utilize a sitter who your toddler already knows as a second set of hands for those park runs in the early days. Your toddler will still need to get out of the house and burn off some steam – and getting two out the door can be tricky & exhausting. If you are new to using sitters, but expect you’ll need an extra set of hands once number two comes – do acclimate your child before the baby arrives to mitigate more newness.
- ask your sitter if they are open to helping with household chores and tasks – especially while the kids nap. Sometimes just having someone help chop fruits & veggies is incredibly helpful.