Being pregnant with your second (or seventh) is different from your first. While you are busy getting things ready for the families newest member, you are busy tending to the needs of your children outside the womb. Whether it's homework assignments, team sports or bedtime stories and diapers, there is a lot going on.
Children respond to changes differently. Most children are excited at the idea of a new sibling, some are a little more timid for the changes that are coming, and many might feel a little bit of both. It's important to recognize these feelings are very normal.
Below, we have listed some tips for helping your kid(s) as your prepare for bringing home baby:
Planning for Childbirth
As your due date gets closer, make arrangements for older kids for the time when you're in the hospital. Discuss these plans so kids know what to expect when the day arrives.
Consider letting your child visit you in the hospital as soon as possible after the baby is born, ideally when no other visitors are around and even first if its possible; this helps reinforce the birth as a family event.
Try keeping their schedules as normal as possible leading up to the birth. If you plan to make any room shifts, do it as soon as possible so they have time to adjust and make them apart of it if possible so they can be excited too.
If your child is approaching a milestone, like potty training or moving from a crib to a bed, make those changes well before your due date or put them off until after the baby has been home for a while. Know that you may experience some regression as well.
Bringing the New Baby Home
Once you bring baby home, include them as much as possible in the daily activities involving the baby so that they don't feel left out.
Many kids want to help. However, it can give your older child a chance to interact with the baby in a positive way. If your child shows little to no interest in the baby, don't be alarmed and don't force it. It can take time.
When you are able to try and take some one on one time with your older kids. Even if it's just fifteen minutes, it gives them something special during all the changes. Try talking with them about other things besides the new baby too - odds are they are hearing a lot about the new little one from everyone including extended family.
Dealing With Feelings
With all of the changes that a new baby can bring, some older kids may struggle as they try to adjust.
You should encourage your child to talk about their feelings, but if they can’t express their feelings, don't be surprised if they decide to test the boundaries.
If your child acts up, don't bend the rules, but understand what feelings may be motivating that behavior. It could be a sign that your child needs more one-on-one time with you, but make it clear that although his or her feelings are important, they have to be expressed in appropriate ways.
Each child deals with things differently. Be patient and firm - you all will find your new rhythm. Birth and new babies are exciting and stressful and full of changes!