We are expecting our second child in summer. Our older child is 3 and is not amused at the prospect of becoming a big sister. How can we make this transition go smoothly for all of us?
Mom Of 2
Dear Mom of 2:
Congratulations on your impending arrival!
Some children don’t mind having additional siblings; other children are incredibly bothered by the prospect.
I think the best way to help your child through this transition is to begin to prepare her for the reality of life as an older sibling. This means going to the library and getting books out on babies. By reading together, your child should begin to understand that while life will change a little bit when the baby arrives, your love for her won’t change at all.
Continue to reinforce the fact that your love for your child won’t in any way decrease or change when the baby arrives. Also stress that babies do need a lot of care and when they are first born, they don’t do much more than eat, sleep, and cry! If you have friends with infants, it may be helpful to schedule a visit. I remember how shocked my one child was when her younger sibling arrived. She told me that we needed to send her sister back because she was broke; all she did was cry, sleep and eat. It was funny, but it made me realize that I’d forgotten to prepare her for the realities of life with a baby!
In order to prepare older children for the arrival of their sibling, many hospitals now offer “sibling classes”. You can find out about these classes from your health care provider, or call your local hospital. Sibling classes are great for children who are reluctant or worried about the impending arrival.
When the baby first arrives, having a special time or a special outing with just you and your older child also helps to smooth the transition. If family or friends ask how they can help, you may suggest that they take your older child out for a special outing. This will give your older child some extra attention, and hopefully, you and your baby can get some rest while your older child is out!
Buying a gift from “the baby” for your older child is another way to help smooth the waters. The gift can be a t-shirt that says “I’m the big sister!” or something similar. Along those lines, I found it helpful to stockpile a bunch of inexpensive “gifts” for the other children before the baby arrived. When a friend or relative arrived to visit with a gift for the baby, I’d tell my older children to go and pick out a gift from the baby box. This helped too because they didn’t feel like they were left out.
Hopefully, these tips will help make your transition this summer a little easier. I wish you and your family the best!