A new baby's arrival is an absolute blessing and one filled with happiness. However, if you already have children at home, it can also be an unsettling time, one where the odd bit of jealousy can seep in. Here are a few tips and suggestions for avoiding sibling jealousy when a new baby arrives in the household.
Preparation is key Prior to a new baby being born, it's a great idea to spend some time preparing your existing children for its arrival. This preparation could start with including your child in your pregnancy by talking to them about what is happening to your body, about your tummy growing to house the growing baby and could even include taking your child to look at the baby on one of your visits for an ultrasound. Fun things to consider are letting your child touch mummy's tummy, or in my case, it was letting my toddler talk to the baby through my belly button; he would often declare that he could see the baby through this belly button portal. If you've got a young child in the house who might not understand all of the notions of pregnancy and a new baby suddenly arriving, there are a number of books out there that will aide conversations on a family getting bigger and a new baby being welcomed into the household. Here are a couple of suggestions:
There's Going to Be A Baby - by John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury
There is a House Inside my Mummy - by Giles Andreae
What to Expect When the New Baby Comes Home - by Heidi Murkoff
Spots Baby Sister by Eric Hill
Our Stripy Baby by Gillian Shields
Books can be a handy aide to conversations
Go hands free For mums, if it is at all possible, when your older children meet the new baby for the first time, it's a good idea to put your new baby into a bassinet or have someone else hold your new family member. The reason for this is that you will have your hands free to be able to cuddle and greet your existing kids and let them know that you still have time and cuddles for them. It's a small gesture, but whilst you've been in labour and settling in with your newest born, they'll likely have missed you and by being able to greet them properly, they'll still feel really important to you and not pushed out. Once they've given you a cuddle, they'll likely want to then check out their new sibling.
Gift Exchange If you've got a toddler or a young child at home already, it can be a great idea to get them to choose a gift to give to their new sibling. This helps them feel included, and will give them something to break the ice with the new baby. A really special idea could also be for the baby to give their older sibling(s) a gift too, so ahead of the main event, choose a little gift that you can wrap up and take to the hospital with you so that there's something waiting for sibling visitors when they arrive too. Little gestures like this help to create a vibe of positivity around the new baby's arrival, and siblings will head home after their visit with the new baby exclaiming that their new baby brother/sister brought them a present.
Say Cheese! New babies are beyond adorable, with their little tiny features and gorgeous skin, and it is natural to want to take hundreds of pictures of these little bundles of dimples and cuteness. However, make sure you still include your existing children in some pictures so that they feel included and don't feel that someone has stolen all of your attention. One thing that we did when we had our second child, was take a photo of my son's first visit to hospital to visit his new brother, and we then laminated the photo so he could take it to nursery with him to show all his friends. He took this photo around with him for a good few weeks and would show it to anyone who'd look. It made him feel so proud to say that this was a photo of him and his new baby brother.
Don't go changing too much Changes are inevitable when a new baby comes along, but if it is possible, you should try not to change too many things that could make your existing children feel unsettled. So if you've got existing routines or activities that already work for your family, try to keep these in place so it doesn't feel (to your child) that the whole world has changed for them.
What tips have you used when welcoming a new baby into your household