The first time you brought home baby there were no other babies in the house. This time around, an older sibling is waiting for baby at home and things may get a little dicey for a while. Older siblings often like the idea of having a new baby around the house, but they are also used to being the center of attention and a new baby means diverting plenty of attention from one child to the newborn. Before the baby comes home, spend a few months preparing the older sibling for baby.
Talk about the good and bad aspects of having a new baby around the house. There are plenty of fantastic reasons for an older sibling to enjoy having a new baby around the house, but there are also some things that are exactly fun - like sharing time, toys and more.
For a few months before baby arrives, talk with their older sibling about how things around the home will change when the baby arrives. Remind the older sibling that newborns require lots of time and attention, but reassure your older child that the new baby will not be replacing them.
Talk about what a new baby can and cannot / will and will not do. It can be hard for an older sibling to understand just how living with a newborn works, so give your older child a few pointers on what babies are really like. Be honest with your child and tell them that a newborn typically spends most of the day eating, sleeping and crying. Remind your older child that newborns cannot talk or eat solid foods. They cannot walk and play.
Visit the topic of baby safety. An extremely important subject to broach with your older child is newborn and infant safety. This is especially important if the older sibling is over the age of three because many toys for older children have small parts that infants can choke on.
Give your older child something baby doesn’t have. Sometimes all it takes is a set hour once a week when your older child is the center of attention to solve attachment and emotional issues. Spending quality time away from baby is important for you as well because often new mothers get caught up in caring for newborns and forget there is life beyond breastfeeding and diaper changes.
Bringing a new baby into the home can be difficult for the once only child. Don't assume your older child is just as happy as you are at the new introduction to the family. Take time to talk about the good, the bad and the sad. Tell your child how much you love them and remind them that they'll always be your oldest, first child.