Having a new baby in the house can be a big change for everyone, but it generally affects older siblings more, as they start to get less attention. The following is a few tips for how to help older siblings adjust to life with baby without resentment, etc.
1. Include them. Your baby is a part of the whole family, so the whole family should be included in the planning, preparing for, and caring for the baby. The more involved your child is, the less they will feel like the baby is taking over their love and attention, and instead they will love the baby as well. So, let them help you plan for the baby. Take them shopping with you and let them pick out things for the baby. If you decorate a nursery, let them help you paint, etc. Once the baby has arrived, make sure they are at the hospital to see the baby. After you are home, have them involved in the care of the baby, from feedings, to changing, to entertaining. The more involved, the better the transition will go.
2. Help them feel special too. One of the hardest adjustments kids make to new baby is that of competing for attention. You know if baby cries, they get your attention first. So, help your child understand this by explaining it to your children, and then make big efforts to help your child feel just as important. Spend time with them without the baby there. Tell them you love them. Make sure you tell them that you are so glad they are your kid. If the baby is getting a lot of gifts and attention from others, make sure they get a few gifts too. Plan fun things for them so that they know you still think of them, and that the baby is not the only things that matters.
3. Make it as small of an adjustment as possible. You know that when a new child arrives, life changes some for everyone, so plan for it early. If you know that because of feeding schedules, lack of sleep, etc. that Dad is going to take a more dominant role in the care of the older siblings, start it before the baby comes so that it is not something that is directly reflected on baby. If the house is going to need to be quieter after baby comes, start implementing quiet hours before baby, so that once again they do not blame baby for the big changes in their life. The more you can implement before the actual arrival of the baby, the less of an adjustment it will be.
New baby in the home takes getting used to. Respect that the older siblings may struggle with it for a time, and do not try and force them to love the baby, instead make it as easy as possible for them to. Make sure that you do not give them reasons to resent the baby, and make sure their needs are being met. It is not easy for a toddler who is hungry to understand why their baby sibling gets to eat before they do. So, be sure to avoid things like “I can’t get you food right now because I have to feed the baby.” This just cements it in that baby is more important than they are, so do your best to help them feel as much love and the adjustment period will be short.