The following are some great tips for helping older siblings adjust to life with a new baby:
1. Read books to your child about other kids who have had a new baby come into their home. There are several books available that focus on the changes and excitement of having a new brother or sister. You can pick some up and read to your child to help them better understand what will happen, and to feel more comfortable with it.
2. Let your child help you get ready for baby. No matter who you are there are going to be some preparations to get ready for a new baby. In some cases all you really do is pull your old baby stuff out of storage and strap the car seat into the car, and for others you decorate a nursery and buy new items. No matter what you do, include your other children. Let them help you paint, or let them plug the car seat in, or choose where it should go in the car. If they help you get ready, they are more excited, which helps the adjustment period.
3. Let them get something for baby. Even if you have everything you need for baby, you will still buy a few things, like new pacifiers, or packs of diapers, etc. Allow your child to choose something they can give the baby. It can be a special stuffed animal, or a thermometer, or whatever. If they get something to give baby, they feel more bonded to it, and more accepting of it.
4. Let them touch the baby and hold it. Even though germs can be harmful to babies, and even though kids are not always soft when they touch and hold babies, if you want your children to adjust to life with baby and be accepting of baby, you have to allow them to hold the baby, and get to know it. If they are afraid to touch the baby or you might get mad, they may start to resent the baby.
5. Let them help you with the baby. Kids adjust easier if they feel like they have a place. So, give them the role of mommy’s helper, and let them help you care for the baby. Let them feed the baby a bottle, or soap up the washcloth at bath time, or get the wipes out when you are changing a diaper. The more involved they are in the care of the baby, the happier they are about the baby being around.
6. Make them feel special too. Babies get a lot of attention, and a lot of oohing and ahhing. Make sure your other children feel special too. Spend one-on-one time with them. Remind them of the things you love about them. Get them gifts as well, especially if the baby is getting several. Make a big deal out of them coming to the hospital to see the baby. They have to know they are still important.
7. Prepare them early. If you want the adjustment to go well, you can’t just spring it on them. If you know that for the first few months after baby comes mom is going to need to sleep in to get used to waking during the night, so dad will be handling the morning routine, start BEFORE baby comes so that the kids are used to it and do not blame baby for the changes. Talk to your child about the fact that they will have a new sibling, and what it will mean. Help them understand that new babies need a lot of care upfront, and that the baby may get a lot of attention, but that you still love them.