J - Juggling Siblings
Giving your child a sibling is one of the greatest gifts you can give them - or so they say. I wouldn’t know, I’m an only child. BUT I have given my oldest child two siblings, so I’ve been in your shoes...times two since it was twins! Welcoming a new baby is definitely a transition for everyone involved and there are a few things you can do to prepare older brother or sister beforehand as well as many things you can do to ease their transition once baby has arrived.
Involve your older child or children in the pregnancy process. Bring them to appointments, especially ultrasounds, so they can see how big Baby is growing.
Look at the photos of him or her as a newborn and talk to them about how a typical newborn acts - eat, poop, sleep, repeat.
If your older child is still nursing, there is no need to wean unless your healthcare provider suggests you should. Explain to big brother that the new baby will need to nurse as well, but probably more frequently than he does since the baby won’t be eating food.
If your older child is still in bed with you, there is no need to move him if he’s not ready. You’d be surprised at how well young children can sleep through a crying newborn in the middle of the night (been there!).
Read books about new siblings and talk about how he can help Mommy out. You may also have him start helping before Baby arrives -- you know, picking things up off of the floor that your pregnant belly can’t reach!
One thing we did was had our son's daycare do a craft with him that served as our gender reveal. So, he knew before Dad even knew. See below for a picture!
It's "go time"...
Some moms decide to have their older children present for the birth, and this is great! It may help to have another family member (Aunt, older cousin, grandma, etc.) or a sibling doula present in case you feel they need to be removed.
If you aren’t comfortable with them in attendance or hospital policy doesn’t allow it, be sure to really prepare them for you being gone then having an addition to the family once you’re back. Especially if this is the first time away from you. Over prepare them. I cannot stress that enough. And be sure to leave them with someone they are 100% comfortable with.
You’ll want to introduce Baby to Big Brother or Sister as soon as possible. A helpful activity is to have a present “from Baby to Big Brother" and vice versa. That way they start off as buddies and not rivals for Mommy’s attention. Big Brother will be so excited Baby gave him a new toy and that attention was still on him for the moment!
The first few days or weeks may be an adjustment period -- and more so for those with multiples than singletons.
Give yourself grace on getting the hang of these but having a nursing pillow and a baby carrier helps to keep your hands free and available for your older child.
Toddlers are eager to help, it’s in their nature. Use that to let them fetch you diapers, wipes, bottles, etc. so that they feel involved and you don’t have to move around as much, especially if you can’t.
Create a special bin of toys and activities specifically for nursing time. Also, stock up on books so you can read to him or her while taking care of Baby.
Don't get down on yourself for "not doing enough" or watching too many movies. You do what you need to do to survive.
If you’re older child is still napping, you may find it difficult to coordinate naps with the newborn. If you are used to laying down with your older child to get them to nap, continue doing that so they don’t feel pushed aside. Instead of laying, you can sit next to them while nursing Baby.
If you need a nap yourself, fully childproof one room of your house that can be blocked off by a baby gate or has a door that can be locked. Some moms even put a floor mattress in front of their bedroom door so there’s absolutely no way Big Brother can figure out the lock and escape.
Remember, the first few weeks/months can be hard, especially juggling older kids and a newborn, but you can do it! The dishes and laundry can wait. And if they can't (I get it), consider hiring a postpartum doula to help.
Just focus on bonding as a family and giving attention to the older child during their transition in his or her new role.
Allesanda received her Bachelors in Behavioral Science from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in December 2013. She now lives in North Texas with her husband and children. As a doula and educator of infant sleep and eco-friendly living, she blogs about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, holistic health, and parenting.