When you have your first baby, you’re completely wrapped up in protecting and caring for them. All eyes are on them – 100% focus on making sure they have exactly what they need at all times. The second time around can be a little bit different. You still have this new, tiny child to care for, and you’re so excited for everything that’s in store with this new chapter of your life. But it might have a slightly different feeling than that to your firstborn.
Your now preschooler has spent almost five years getting all of the attention – having everything revolve around them. This definitely doesn’t mean your preschooler is spoiled – it just means things are about to change for them, when they’ve never known any different. So what can you do to prepare them for this next step? How can you make sure both children’s needs are being met?
Talk To Your Older Child
First and foremost, talk to your child before they hear other family members discussing the news in front of them. You might want to show your firstborn your growing stomach to help explain what’s happening.
This is also a great time to go ahead and provide them with a role in the process. Ask them to help you decorate the nursery in preparation for the baby. Explain to your child that the baby will be eating, sleeping and crying, and that they won’t be able to play right away.
Get ready to answer any questions your child might throw your way. They might ask where the baby comes from – don’t be afraid to explain, but keep the conversation at a level they can understand. Explain when the baby will finally come by using a frame of a reference they’ll be familiar with, like in the summer when it’s hot out or near Christmastime or another holiday they recognize.
Bring them to doctor’s appointments, let them feel your belly when the baby kicks, read books to them about childbirth and being a big brother or sister.
Your child will also be aware of any changes you may be going through physically, emotionally and energetically. Sometimes a child can start to resent the baby for “making you” feel this way, so take care of yourself. It’s much more difficult to properly care for others when you’re not feeling great yourself!
Stick To Their Routine
Try to stick with their usual routine as much as possible, and try to make few drastic changes. If they’ll be moving into a new room, try to do that as quickly as possible so they have lots of time to get used to it before the new baby comes.
Help them understand the things that won’t change after the baby is born – they’ll still go to school, they’ll still have the same toys, and you’ll still read their favorite books with them.
This is crucial. Most of the issues will arise in the fact that your firstborn might feel ignored or as though they aren’t receiving as much attention as they once were. Let them be involved in the preparation of the baby as much as possible; and after the baby is born, keep them involved.
Make sure they know how important their role is as a big sibling, and remind them of the benefits of being the older child, like staying up later, reading books and playing fun games. Though there may be a period of adjustment, ultimately as long as you explain to your child how important their role is and reassure them of how much you love them, they’ll get excited to be an older brother or sister.