Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Preparing your child for a new sibling

Remember that whole post I did right before this one about hair? Well I went to get my hair done tonight and got a little crazy and came out a brunette! ha!

I'm a little shocked.......but I think I will like it for winter. :-)

This is more of the series I am doing on a baby's first year. Today I am talking about how to prepare your first child for a sibling (or second or third depending on how many children you have). I think so much of this is going to depend on the age of the child who has the new sibling coming. If they are very close together and the child is under two - it can be hard to tell them what is coming and probably not even necessary to an extent. If they are older, say over 3 or 4, you can really discuss with and involve them.
I can only speak to my experience but Harper was just a little over two when we had Hollis so she wasn't totally sure about what was happening. Through my pregnancy I would show her my belly and say "baby" but I really don't think she had any idea what was happening. She saw the room being decorated and the baby things being set back up. She immediately wanted to get back in the baby swing she had hated as a baby. She also wanted to lay in the nap nappy and bouncy seat. I just let her if I could be with her to watch her. We talked about "Hollis" and she would say her name but I knew she really didn't know what was coming.
A lot of people suggested having a gift the day the new baby was born to give to the older child from the baby to make them more accepting. I almost did this but then realized Harper really wouldn't care. We did get her a couple of little things new to play with but mostly because she had to spend a lot of the time at the hospital for a few days and we needed to keep her entertained.
I worried for about 8 months on how Harper would feel and how she would react to the new baby but honestly when Hollis arrived she didn't pay that much attention to her or really seem to notice her. My biggest problem was I had a C Section and couldn't lift her but I just explained that mommy was hurt and couldn't hold her and she seemed to get it. She would repeat to me "Mommy can't hold me. She's hurt" all the time but it helped her process. Harper did act out at first but I think that was the only way she knew to work through the changes in her life. After a few weeks we finally got back to normal.
Something that helped us so much was both sets of grandparents came to help when Hollis was born and took turns staying with us but this time I didn't need help so much with the baby as with Harper so they spent a lot of time and gave a lot of attention to Harper and she felt very loved. My parents even took her home with them for a week which was a HUGE gift because we got time alone with Hollis and she got to have a big time at her grandparents house and she felt so special. I know not everyone has grandparents who can help but if you have friends or siblings that might be willing to take your older child for a few hours and do something fun with them or another good idea is to have each parent trade off. Let mom take the older child to do something they like to do while daddy keeps the baby and then trade. One on one time is so important when the baby is first joining the family.
And after a while - it all works out and they likely won't remember a time before their sibling was not a part of their life.
What did you do to prepare your kids for their new siblings?
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