A bond between a newborn and their siblings is an essential part of the family system as a whole, but how can you encourage this bond? Here are a few tips for creating a healthy and secure attachment between your infant and their older siblings:
⦁ Tell your child about the pregnancy yourself.
⦁ Adjust the older sibling’s schedule before the birth.
⦁ Involve your child in preparing for the newborn.
⦁ Make time for one-on-one time with your older child.
⦁ Start using the baby’s first name.
⦁ Involve your child in caring for the baby.
⦁ Ask your child before involving the new baby in activities.
Keep reading to get the specifics.
Your child will feel kept in the loop if you tell them yourself that they’re going to have a new baby sibling. Not only does it make the family closer, but it also gives the child more time to adjust to the transition of having a new family member. If the child is younger, try reading them children’s books on the subject to get them familiar with the concept.
Moving a child out of their old routine can be challenging. Don’t make drastic changes after the birth, as this could lead to resentment or feelings of displacement. However, slowly ease them into a new routine throughout the pregnancy.
You may find it easier to keep the older child’s schedule as similar to their established one as possible. For example, keeping your child in daycare or school can provide them with a space that hasn’t changed with the arrival of a new sibling. This arrangement also allows you one-on-one time with the new baby without the pressure of caring for two children.
Letting your child help with things like picking out clothes and toys for the new baby makes the concept of a new sibling more real and creates common ground between the siblings. The older child could even be proud when they play with the toy they picked out. It also gives the older sibling a sense of control and belonging within the family, even when they have no control over the changing dynamic.
You might also consider taking your child to your OB/GYN appointments to see the baby and hear its heartbeat, which might make them more excited to have a new sibling. Learn more about visiting our new Brazos Valley Pavilion for Women.
By making time for your older child, you show them that you still care about them and prioritize time to attend to their needs, both socially and emotionally. This time together helps your child feel heard and loved, even if you don’t have as much time for them as you used to. Making time every day to give them your undivided attention goes a long way.
Your child must see the new baby as more than just a “baby” but as a member of the family and a growing person. You can achieve this realization by using the baby’s name as soon as you decide on one.
If they show an interest in caring for the baby, let them do simple tasks like retrieving a diaper or a bottle. Let them feel like they’re doing a big part in caring for the baby and praise them for being a good older sibling. However, it’s crucial to clarify that these actions are voluntary, and your child is not required to help care for the baby.
One easy way to give your child some agency is to ask before you involve the baby in anything. Instead of immediately taking the baby along with you when you play, first ask the older sibling if the baby can join. If the answer is no, don’t get angry either, it’s normal for children to want time to themselves.
If you have any other questions about how to create a strong family dynamic, be sure to book an appointment with one of our experts at the new Brazos Valley Pavilion for Women, or look into taking your child on one of our Sibling Tours before the arrival of your new baby. For more information regarding pregnancy and parenting, check out our other maternity resources.