Note: This article was written by Dr. William Sears and sponsored by Huggies®. Dr. Sears is a member of the Huggies Parent Council.
You may be thinking, “I’ve already had one newborn in the house so round two should be a breeze.” You’ve probably already decorated the nursery, stocked up on your favorite Huggies diapers and wipes and have enough pre-made frozen meals in the fridge to last you weeks. But there is one key difference this time around that you may not have thought of yet, and it’s the ultimate game changer: you already have a child at home.
The arrival of Baby number two will mean some big changes for all. You are welcoming a new baby into the home, but your first born is welcoming a sibling into their home, playroom and mommy and daddy’s arms as well. Here are some tips for helping your big kid bond with your new arrival:
1. Make them friends before birth
As you are planning ahead for baby’s arrival, help your older child plan ahead too. Tell them about the new sibling before birth. This can be early or later on in your pregnancy depending on the child’s level of understanding. Show pictures of the baby in mommy’s uterus. Let her pat your belly, talk to the baby, and feel the baby kick. Have fun talking about and planning for the baby with your child.
2. Get them excited for Baby’s arrival
As the due date approaches, it is important to continue to build on the excitement of having the long awaited baby arrive. If it has felt like a long time for you, imagine how long it’s felt for your first born with their particularly short attention span. One way to boost delight around the birth is to ask the child to help you plan a “birthday party” for the new baby. Take your child to the store with you and let them pick the cake and the decorations and to plan special presents for their new sibling, but also gifts for them as they are taking on a new role as big brother or sister.
3. Once Baby arrives, give them a role that makes them feel important
Give your child a job in the family organization. This job should play up their importance to you, personally and practically. Tell them you need their help. Give them a job title, “You can be Mommy’s Helper,” and make it fun. For instance, let them be the one to unwrap the baby gifts and test the rattles. But also make it educational.
Shortly after our fifth child, Erin, was born, we gave our four-year-old, Hayden, the job of “mother’s assistant.” And, we paid her to help. After a few weeks, Hayden was not only more pleasant to live with, she also learned some new skills, too!
4. Be the diaper changing duo
You are going to have a lot of diaper changes with a newborn in the house. Diaper changes are a great time to enlist “Mommy’s Helper.” Depending on your child’s age ask them to bring you the Huggies Little Snugglers Diapers or Huggies Natural Care Wipes. Explain to them why it is important to have a good diaper and a gentle wipe that keep baby’s skin clean and healthy, so baby stays happy and protected. Let them touch the three layers of the wipes letting them know it’s important that they are strong, soft and absorbent. Show them the wetness indicator and explain how this can be a great tool for knowing when it’s time to change. If and when you feel comfortable let them change diapers with your supervision.
My diaper of choice are Huggies Little Snugglers because they are inspired by hugs! Your child already understands the importance of hugs, so let them know that each time they help you change baby’s diaper it’s like they are giving baby a hug.
5. Share your time adequately
Often what bothers children most is sharing you with the new sibling. Share time by doing things together. It sounds good to say that you’ll give your older child equal amounts of your time, but in practice that’s unrealistic. New babies require a lot of maintenance and you don’t have 200 percent of you to give.
Beyond working together for diaper changes, try playtime for two: As baby gets a bit older, encourage the child to entertain the baby. Making faces and funny noises is something three or four-year-olds excel at and babies love. Big, toothless grins can be an incredible ego-booster!
It’s exciting each time your family gets a little bigger. We loved it so much we had eight kids! But balancing the needs of your newborn as well as the needs of their older siblings can be tough. Stay positive and share time by doing things together and you’ll be well on your way to keeping everyone happy.
Huggies® believes deeply in the Power of Hugs. The simple, loving act is proven to support babies’ emotional and physiological well-being. Huggies® diapers and wipes are inspired by a parent’s hug, – to nurture baby with care, cradle baby in comfort and surround baby in protection. Make sure you embrace baby’s bottom with Huggies® Little Snugglers Diapers to deliver our best skin care to help keep baby’s skin clean and healthy. Learn more at Huggies.com. #HuggiesCouncil