As many of you know, we currently have a strong-willed 7-year-old daughter and are excepting our second any day now. To be completely bare and honest with you all… I am terrified of going from one child to two with such a large age gap. I mean, our daughter has only ever known being an only child. How will she handle sharing her time, space, and attention with a new baby? I know this is a concern with younger children too, but I fear that being an only child for seven years instead of just a couple may make transitioning more difficult. Not to mention that our daughter has a very strong-willed and dominant personality (okay, that’s really just an “official” term for bossy – haha). So how will that play out having a newborn that can’t communicate and “bend” to her will?
I’m probably worrying too much about the age gap situation. In reality, there will be so many perks to having them spread out as well. BUT I’m still going to prepare her as much as I can for the addition of a new baby in the house. Here are some of the top transitioning techniques we’re doing that seem to be working well so far – she’s so excited and positive about her new sister. I’ll keep you updated once baby arrives!
Don’t forget to check out these other helpful resources:
- The Ultimate Crib Guide!
- Choosing the Best Prenatal Vitamin
- Your Guide to Better Sleep During Pregnancy
Don’t Blame the Baby
There will be so many days, months even, where morning sickness and common pregnancy pains take over. Children are so great at picking up on our non-verbal signals, so it’s important to try and disassociate your discomfort from the baby. Even in older children, pregnancy and all its symptoms and milestones are hard to understand. In the beginning you may not even realize you’re doing it – I’ve even slipped up a few times.
For example, the first time the baby kicked me in the ribs… I just came out with an initial reaction of “Ow! She kicked my ribs!” Well my daughter was sitting there with me too and immediately hugged me and said “I’m sorry the baby is kicking you like that, mommy.” It seriously broke my heart. One that it was so sweet of her to react that way. But two that I didn’t want her to associate anything bad with the baby and cause resentment before she was even born. So I immediately explained to her that the baby didn’t do it on purpose – she’s just running out of room and growing so it was actually a good thing!
Get Them Involved
What better way to get a child excited for a new sibling than to involve them in the pregnancy? Kids love to be included, especially in “adult” things. I personally think this does wonders for their attitude towards the new sibling as well as helping them get acclimated to having another person in their life. Some awesome ideas on how to get them involved include:
Helping put together nursery items/ toys/etc.
We had our oldest help build some of the easier toys like this awesome infant-to-toddler rocker (with parental assistance of course) and had her help fold/put away blankets and clothes. Since mom was doing it too, she was more than happy and excited to help! Definitely give them something to help with based on their age and skill level.
Asking their opinion on colors/names/items/etc.
When picking out some more of the “design” items for the nursery (like storage baskets or crib sheets), I would pick a couple options that I liked, then had our daughter tell me which she liked best out of those. She actually picked out these adorable crib sheets that are on the crib right now! I essentially still picked the nursery items, but she was able to feel like it was her special choice. Choose something you’re comfortable with having your little pick (maybe even guide them to the “right” decision) and watch their little face light up!
Check in on their feelings
Don’t forget to have different conversations throughout the pregnancy checking in on the littles. They might be confused, scared, or excited but don’t know how to talk to you about it. Starting that conversation with them can give them an opportunity to open up. Our daughter has pretty much been nothing but excited, but I still make sure I check in with her. Even a simple question like, “so how are you feeling about the new baby?” or “so are you getting excited for the baby to come?” can be beneficial.
Make it Personal
Becoming an older sibling is a huge step and a big deal! I really wanted our daughter to feel a fun and special connection with the new baby. While it’s easy for mom and dad to be excited and feel that love for baby in the womb, it’s harder for a child to bond in that same way. So we decided to let her pick out a fun gift for the baby that they can enjoy together! We let her make the decision, but some of the options we suggested were: books, clothes, or toys.
Ultimately, she choose this super cute book board book – Chicka Chicka Boom Boom! She has an incredible love for reading wants to read books to the baby once she’s born. How sweet is that?? So this is now her book to share with her sister.
You can get a copy of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom » here.
Another, cheaper, idea that she’s been doing is making art! She has quite a collection now of pictures and other art to give to her new sibling. You could definitely suggest this to your kiddos or even make a fun “art day” out of it.
Whether you’re going from one kid to two or five kids to six, life is going to be so different with the addition of a new baby. Family dynamics, schedules, moods, budget, and much more will have an impact on everyone in the family. It’s important to sit your little down and let them know about some of the changes that are coming and how they can be helpful during the change process. Obviously the conversation will look different depending on the age of your child and your family situation.
Since your daughter is a little older, we had more mature conversations about responsibility and attitude. We explained that the baby will need a lot of attention when she is first born, but that we are still there for her too. She also offered to help feed her and change her, so we had a conversation about what she could and couldn’t do. As well as letting her know that it was never expected of her to “take care of” the baby, but anything she wanted to help with was absolutely appreciated.
Leave Time for Them
It’s so easy to let your life become consumed by all things baby, even during pregnancy. Everyone loves babies! I mean, every time someone sees you when you’re pregnant they will always bring up the baby and how things are going. As a child, it can be a little discouraging to have everything be about someone else and never about them. So as hard as it is, don’t let your life be taken over by the baby. Make sure you’re spending just as much time focusing on your other kiddo as you do on the new addition.
With our older one, I always make sure to ask her about her day and how she’s doing. I also make sure I’m having conversations and play time with her that has zero baby involvement – it’s all about her during these times. As important as adjusting your child to a new baby and sharing time/attention is, I think it’s super important for a child to have time set aside for just them. This is something we’ll continue focusing on after the baby is born as well. I’m thinking special events our outings where each kiddo can have personal time with mom and dad.
⇒ What do you think mommas? Are there any other tips, tricks, or advice that has worked in preparing your older child for a new baby?