Adding a new baby to your household can be a big adjustment for every one in the family, but particularly older children. In fact, Twigtale’s bestseller is Welcoming a New Sibling. We sought out some great ideas for helping children through the transition of becoming a big sibling. Adding their insight to the conversation is Allison Lefrak, consumer protection attorney at the Federal Trade Commission; Anne, preschool teach for nine years, Betina Chan-Martin; Twigtale's head of product and creator of the iPhone App UrbanBib; and Sitinee Sheffert, founder of Giving Artfully and Giving Artfully Kids.
What advice would you give to parents who are adding a new baby to their family?
What I have seen work the best is when the parents really prepare the older sibling for the baby by being honest about what it will be like to have a newborn in the family. Many times, I hear children talk about being excited to play with a baby, not realizing this will not happen until the baby is a few months old. If a child’s expectation does not fit with reality, it may create negative feelings. Giving older children a doll that can be changed and fed could be a great way for them to feel like they are taking care of baby (similar to what Mommy and Daddy are doing).
The one thing I recall worrying about during my second (and third) pregnancy was whether I could possibly love the new unborn baby as much as I loved my son (and my daughter). Of course, I loved the new baby the moment I laid eyes on her. But the advice I would offer to parents adding a sibling is that you have to be patient with yourself. Give yourself time to get acquainted with the new human being who has entered your life and joined your family. You can’t expect yourself to feel the same way about a brand new baby as you do for a little person you’ve known for quite some time. Rest assured that your heart most certainly has enough space to grow and make room to love the new baby just as much as you love her older sibling.
Involve the older sibling in the decision making about the new baby. I think Madeleine feels like she’s very much part of everything that goes on with the baby, and you can tell she’s really excited about it. She’s already helped us pick out everything from names to toys for the baby.
A new baby will keep you extremely busy (feeding, diapers, etc), but remember to spend some quality time with the older sibling. Make them part of the process - it is easier to do everything yourself, but incorporating the older siblings will hopefully prevent them from feeling like the new baby is taking all the attention.
Is there a funny or memorable big sibling story you would like to share?
My fondest memories of childhood are of me and my two older siblings playing outside all day together. My brother was the oldest and the creator of our play. The phrase “The sky’s the limit” was no doubt created to convey his boundless imagination. My sister was my best friend, my courage. When she placed her confidence in my heart, I felt I could do anything.
If Madeleine had it her way, the baby would be called Classic Shakira Dash. She’s also convinced that she never wants to have kids because I look so uncomfortable.
The day Crosby was discharged from the hospital was Sosie, my 5-year-old's birthday. He was born in the same exact room/tub that she was, so she thought it was pretty cool that she was born in the same exact room as her baby brother.