Preparing older children for the arrival of a new baby
- Tell your children as soon as you are ready to announce your pregnancy. Explain it to them and what if means for the family in a way they will best understand. Help them get excited and explain how important their new role as an older sibling will be.
- Give them time to absorb the news. When they are ready, they will come back to you to express their joy or concerns and to ask questions. Listen to them without reprimanding them if they are not happy about the new baby, and reassure them that you will always still love them.
- Help your children understand what’s happening. From a child’s perspective, a pregnancy lasts an infinitely long time, and the baby hidden in your belly is a very abstract concept. Explain to your children how a baby grows in its mom’s belly – a range of age-appropriate children’s picture books are available on the subject. Talk to your children about their own arrival in the world and show them the photos: you during the pregnancy, the maternity ward, the children themselves as newborns etc. Finally, encourage them to touch your belly to feel the baby moving, but do not force them if they seem hesitant.
- Include your children in your preparations for the baby’s arrival. Ask for their help in preparing for the baby.Show them the baby items you have purchased, ask their opinion on the colors of the baby’s room, and have them personally select a plush toy or clothes for their little brother or sister.
- Be careful not to neglect your children, even when you’re very tired. Instead, adapt the things you do with them to your physical state: engage in quiet activities such as playing a board game, reading a story, making a cake or taking a nap together. Above all, don’t forget to give lots of cuddles!