By Kirsty Prankerd
So, you're ready to break the happy news to your child! Here, Kirsty Prankerd, Managing Director of personalised keepsake retailer ‘Write From The Heart’ offers her tips for preparing your first born for the arrival of a new sibling.
The arrival of a new baby is an exciting time as you prepare to bring a new life into the world. But what might feel exciting for you can be a little overwhelming for your first born. There's no way to predict how your child might react to the news, and studies have found that children can respond in a number of ways. They could be excited with you, but they could also feel like the new baby is taking over their life. This can then lead to feelings of jealousy and sibling rivalry, as well as temper tantrums, acute distress, and a reluctance to bond with the baby.
It's important that you make the birth of a new sibling a positive time for your little one to help them adjust and understand what's going on. That's why I've put together my top tips to help you prepare your first born for the arrival of a new baby brother or sister.
Tell them about your pregnancy early on
Your child needs to hear the big news from you, so it's important that you tell them about your pregnancy as soon as you tell the rest of your family and friends. Not only can this stop friends and relatives from letting the secret slip early, but it also assures your child that they're a big part of the process.
To tell your little one, it can be a good idea to show them your ultrasound picture so they can see their new sibling and understand that they're still growing. This can be a confusing time for your child, so it's important that you have an open discussion and encourage them to ask you any questions. Explain that there are things that will change once the new baby arrives, but that your love for them won't.
To make the experience feel more positive, it's important that you don't make too big a deal about the new arrival, as this could make the change feel scary. After dinner is a good time to broach the subject, when there's just the three of you and everyone is in a good mood. This can help to reassure your child that, although their life might change slightly, your everyday routines won't.
To help them understand better, it can be a good idea to prepare a photo album complete with pictures of themselves when they were a baby. As you work through it, you can discuss how excited everyone was when they arrived to help them understand what to expect.
Get them involved with the preparations
During your pregnancy, it's important that your child feels like they're part of the process, which can help to reassure them that they won't be replaced once the baby comes. A great way to do this is by involving them in the preparations.
You could discuss with them how you could decorate the new baby's bedroom or take them along on shopping trips as you collect baby supplies. You could even shortlist some baby names and ask them to pick their favourite.
It can also be a good idea to read books about new siblings with them to help them understand what's happening and help them prepare for their new role.
If there's any changes that will happen once the baby arrives, such as a new bedtime routine, start them at least three months before the birth to give your child time to adjust.
Spend time with them before the baby comes
While you're pregnant, it can feel like your life revolves around preparing for the new arrival. It’s important that you take some time to bond with your child, so they know that you're still there for them. This could be anything from a family movie night to a trip to the park.
Once the baby comes, keep this routine up. You and your partner can take turns to look after the baby while the other spends some time with your first born to show them that you still have time just for them. This will reassure them that they're still your child, which will ensure they don't start taking their 'little helper' role too seriously and maturing too quickly.
Give them a gift to celebrate the new arrival
Once the new arrival is here, it's important that your first born still feels appreciated. So, consider giving them a little gift to congratulate them on their new role as an older sibling. For example, you could give them a personalised cuddly toy or T-shirt complete with their name and a special message celebrating their promotion to big brother or sister.
Doing this will reassure your child that they still have an important role to play. Plus, they can keep their gift for years to come so they can always look back on the day that their new brother or sister came into their lives.
Preparing for a new little life is an exciting time, but it's important that the experience is a positive one for you first born to help prevent any behavioural issues after the birth. By following these tips, you can help them adjust to the arrival of their new sibling.