A new baby is coming to your home soon and you're wondering, "How do I prepare my older children for the new addition to our family?" It can be tough but as with other things in life, it starts with good planning, followed by careful implementation, and sustained by diligent follow-ups. Here are some tips to make your older children love your new bundle of joy:
1. Constantly Point at Your Belly
This applies to families with toddlers or little children who may not immediately understand that your big belly is carrying a baby. It will take some time for their adorable little brains to wrap around the idea that there's another human being inside you. Consistency is the best policy here, ladies. Be consistent and constant in telling and reminding them that inside Mommy's bulging tummy is a baby. That doesn't mean they will stop jumping at you, though. But... you've got to start somewhere, right?
2. Read Books about Big Brother/big Sister
There are several storybooks with varied illustrations showing soon-to-be big brothers and big sisters what to expect when Mommy is preggy. There are books that showcase the "responsibilities" of big brother and big sister. Simple tasks are written there. For example, Rachel Fuller's Waiting for Baby book series takes a child from the time Mommy is pregnant to the time the baby is born. Joanna Cole's I'm a Big Brother/Big Sister is narrated by a child who talks about the new baby in their home and his/her roles now that he/she is a big brother/sister.
3. Take Them Shopping for Baby Stuff
We want to make them feel that they have special roles in the coming of the new baby. When you're choosing newborn baby clothes, for example, ask their opinion if this or that design will look good on the baby. Involve them in the decision-making process. Create an inclusive environment so they don't feel neglected or left out.
4. Prepare the Nursery with Them
You took them shopping for baby's clothes and now it's time to get things organized at home. Preparing the nursery is a fun family activity, one that should actively involve your older children. It makes them part of the entire process so when baby is born, there is a form of connection when they remember that they were the ones who colored the flowers on the wall.
5. Continue to Spend One-on-one Time with Each Child
It's hard enough to be walking around with that big belly, how in heaven's name will you find time to take out each child for a date? But don't lose your mind just yet, a 15-minute walk with your little boy to ask him about the movie he just saw or a quick stop at a fast food joint to pick up a box of french fries for your tiny princess can go a long way toward telling them that you're not leaving them out just because a new baby is coming.
6. Remember the Power of Hugs
Hugs are powerful gestures of love and gratitude so don't scrimp on them. Give them away as freely and affectionately as you can. Hug your children and tell them how special they are to you.
7. Give Them Gifts upon Baby's Introduction
Prepare gift packages for each child beforehand so when the time comes for you to introduce the new baby to them, you can hand them their gifts. The gifts don't have to be fancy. A simple shirt and some goodies will do to thank them for what they've done and to remind them that they will always be special to you.
Anyone who's expecting a new bundle of joy? Any more tips you can add to this list?