Becoming a big sister or brother - let the big one be small
Becoming a big sister or brother is exciting but also overwhelming. A new sibling means a big change for the family, but most of all for the children. Don't forget to let the elder child be the little one sometimes to make the transition easier.
5 min read
Becoming a big sister or brother is a journey that starts when you become pregnant and you can prepare your elder child in different ways. You need to give them plenty of time to become used to the idea. When the new baby arrives it will be a big change so give your child lots of love and patience so they can react however they need to, whether that's positively or negatively.
Prepare them for new routines in advance and let them be a part of plans and decisions. Some children enjoy playing with baby things, changing mats, and the nursery, others just want things to remain unchanged. Talk about what's going to happen and prepare them for a newborn baby who might not behave as they expect.
When the baby arrives
A new baby needs lots of time with their parents, and this might affect the other children. Be prepared for the big sister or brother to feel left out and need to be close to you more often. They might be completely disinterested in the new baby one minute and keen to help the next. Depending on how your child reacts and how old they are when the. Baby comes, they might react differently from day-to-day. Listen to them and give them what they need.
Give your child extra love and care and don't expect too much in the beginning. Talk to your child about how babies can be difficult in the beginning so they feel like you're on their side. If there are two of you you can take it in turns to give the bigger child all your attention. When you're dealing with the baby you can ask family and friends to give your child lots of attention so they don't feel left out. All of this is good for the sibling relationship.
Let the big one be the little one
Children up to six years old might suddenly start acting like babies again. They might suddenly start speaking in baby talk, want a bottle, or be carried everywhere. It's important to show that this is okay and that you understand how they feel.
Avoid big changes for your child like taking away their dummy or start getting them to sleep in their bed. Being a big sister or brother can make your child feel like they need to be little again to feel safe.
Some children also become whiny or argumentative. Try to comfort them instead of getting angry. If you give them what they need this difficult period will be over more quickly. Remember that it's a big change for your child and give them time to adapt to the change. Give them lots of love and closeness and everything will be alright.
Lower your expectations
Having lots of children is exhausting for the entire family. Lower your expectations - of yourself, housework, and your surroundings. Give that time and energy to your bigger child instead. Be patient and let the big sibling get used to things in their own time.
If you're completely exhausted, don't blame the tiredness on the baby in front of their big sibling, who might think it's the baby's fault when mum or dad can't play with them or cuddle them. Give your child extra time before you rest, or rest together.
Feeding and breastfeeding
It takes a lot of time and energy to breastfeed a new baby and this might make your child jealous of the new baby. Make sure your child gets special time with you before you feed the baby. Your child will feel like they come first and won't mind you feeding the baby as much. You can try feeding your child at the same time as the baby. Then everyone can feel close eating together.
When your family grows you experience challenges and developments at the same time. It can take time for a big sister or brother to get used to the competition, however cute the baby is. When the baby isn't screaming …
Don't put any pressure on your child to bond with the new baby, let it happen on its own. A sibling relationship is built over time with playing, love, fighting, and getting to know each other's needs. Giving each child your love and attention will make it easier top for the sibling relationship to develop.
All children are different, react differently, and have different needs at different ages. The more individual support you can give each child, the better they will bond with each other.
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