What happens when you bring home baby number two -- or, in my case, babies number two, three, and four?
Adjusting to a new baby at home is often difficult for older siblings, especially children under 5 who are used to having lots of attention from Mom and Dad. One of my greatest worries when I was pregnant for the second time was how our 3 1/2-year-old daughter would feel with the arrival of three new siblings at the same time. The world she knew would be forever changed.
Here are some tips that I found eased the transition and reinforced our love for our oldest child when we brought our triplets home:
1.) A "big sister" gift from the new siblings. Our trio "gave" their big sister a monogrammed necklace -- which she still proudly wears -- on her first visit to see them in the hospital.
2.) A "big sister" T-shirt. Display how important and unique the big sibling role is with a special T-shirt that announces it to everyone she meets. There are lots of “I’m a Big Sister” (or Brother) T-shirts on the market, or making your own with a blank T-shirt and fabric paint is also a fun activity. If your child likes art projects, involve them in the process.
3.) Keep routines whenever possible. Bedtime routine has always been my daughter and my special time. The new baby won't notice who puts them to bed, but the older sibling will.
4.) One-on-one time. Take advantage of the new baby’s nap time to share some quality time with the older sibling. Bake cookies, do arts and crafts projects, run errands, or make a quick trip to the library with the older sibling.
5.) Include him/her in caring for younger siblings. Older siblings love to help with feedings, bathing, playing, and teaching their baby brother/sister. (Of course, my oldest leaves the diapering to us!) We always stress that caretaking is optional.
6.) Big sister/brother books. Reading is a great way to initiate discussion about what it means to be a big sibling. We laughed and giggled our way through How To Be A Baby -- By Me, The Big Sister. I'm a Big Sister and I'm a Big Brother are also top picks.
7.) Family pictures. I picked up a little photo brag book and let Emma fill it with pictures of her new family. She didn't leave the house without it for months and proudly showed anyone who asked.
8.) Most importantly, constantly remind him/her how loved and important they are.