How to prepare your older siblings for a new baby
Getting your older siblings to adjust to a new baby can be tough especially when having twins. When we got pregnant and found out we were having twins, I joined several facebook groups. One common theme was getting your older siblings to still feel loved with the new baby. It is definitely something I have always prayed about. By the way if you are curious, you can check out what its like parenting twins vs one baby.
As parents, we always want to do all we can to make sure our children feel loved in every way possible. Sometimes we forget they are children and have emotions too and we get carried away dealing with the newborn and hoping they just catch on to the fact that the baby needs more attention and roll with it. Some kids catch on fast and love their siblings from the beginning. But even for kids that are amazing with the baby immediately, you still need to take an active role in ensuring you do not get carried away by their calm behavior. This helps ensure that there is balance in everything and they do not feel neglected later.
When we got pregnant, my daughter had just turned 3 years old so by the time we had the twins she was about to turn 4 which was a great age. She really took things well surprisingly and is always willing and ready to jump in and help (sometimes even too much lol). However, there are also times when she comes and just wants to cuddle on me or hubby without one of the twins hanging on us. Its always quite funny seeing one of the twins on my lap and then she comes to sit on the other lap and the other twin comes trying to push her away and she gets upset. Or times when I am doing something for her siblings and she wants me to do the same for her even if its only meant for babies.
With all that said, what are some ways we can we can help ease the transition and prepare our older siblings for this new baby or in my case twins?
15 tips to help make this process a little easier for the entire family
Expect it to be a transition for them
Understand and acknowledge that this is a big step for them as well and allow them to freely express how they feel without making them feel ignored or feel like they are overreacting.
Take it slowly, do not put pressure on them to love the baby
As parents we obviously want all our children to get along with each other. We want them to fall in love with the baby immediately and be all cute and lovey with them. But with some kids, this is not always the case. Do not force them to love the baby immediately, it may take time, encourage them but do not use forceful methods.
One on one time
Try to spend one on one time with the older siblings too. In the beginning you may be super tired but try to find some spare time to hang with them. We have tried to be consistent in spending quality time with my 5 year old toddler so she doesn’t begin to feel left out. Although honestly it can be hard especially when we are tired but as often as we can do it, we try. One advice I heard while pregnant was to try answering her first even if the babies are crying just because she will remember if she was ignored but the babies won’t.
Don’t send them away
It can be tempting to send them to stay with grandma or grandpa or other family just so you can settle down and get into a routine. Keep everyone together as much as you can, you could even get extra help at home if you have people available or the resources.
Get them involved
We involve her in the care of her siblings. Our daughter helps to bring the diapers, carry them from place to place and other things for them. She watches then when they cry and we remind her that she gets to teach them how to do things etc which always gets her excited. She loves monitoring them and making sure they do not eat what they should not or watch and prevent them from getting hurt.
Pray about it
In every situation, it’s important to pray and commit it to God. This is not an exception or too small to pray about. We should always as parents commit our children into God’s hands. I wrote a post on praying the fruits of the spirit over our children which also relates to this post, praying for your older siblings and new baby. I also have an ABC scripture cards freebie you can download to help teach the scriptures to your kids using alphabets.
Keep your usual schedule
This can also be tough with the craziness of the first few months. In the beginning, there were several times it was not convenient to attend my toddlers swim classes but we made the extra effort and sometimes even got my cousins to help out so we could make her swim lessons. We try to avoid cancelling her own activities because of the babies so she doesn’t feel like the odd member.
Talk with them
Explain to them the changes that may happen and that you still love them the same but will also need to take some time to care for the new babies. When we have to make certain changes or do things out of the normal routine, we usually talk with our daughter about it as well. Not that it will always change anything, but we think it is important to show up as a team and this includes keeping our kids involved in some decisions.
Do not make everything revolve around the new baby
This is especially true with twins, Inform your guests not to overshadows siblings with the new baby. In the beginning it’s easy for everyone to get carried away and run to see the babies first and ignore the older siblings. Remind them if possible to acknowledge the older ones first then proceed to the babies.
This is just me personally, but when it comes to twins, don’t always refer to them as “the twins” so siblings don’t feel like they are outsiders in the twins circle or that twins are more special than they are.
In Nigeria there is a name for twin moms or twin dads, its Iya ibeji for the mother and baba ibeji for Dad. However the other thing is parents are usually called by the name of the first child so if your first child is Demi, you are mama Demi. Once you have twins people automatically change your name to twin mom or twin dad. We decided and are still trying to enforce that people not call us twin mom or dad but rather call our names or mama Demi just so our toddler daughter doesn’t feel some type of way. Again finding those unconscious things that could slip through the cracks.
Do not try to spoil them
It could work the other way where as parents we feel guilty for the siblings having to share our attention and then we spoil them with gifts etc or loosen up previous rules or limits.
Pay attention to them, if you start to notice any changes especially in behavior, communicate with them. Do not ignore them thinking its just a phase.
My daughter sometimes just wants to be carried especially when she just wakes up. Climbing on hubby is another favorite thing of hers lol. Sometimes we just grab her, carry and run around with her and her joy cup is full! Snuggle your older kids not only when they are crying or sad, but at random times.
Keep things balanced
Whenever we get toys or clothes for her siblings, we usually try to get hers at the same time as well. This is not always possible and we make sure she understands this, however we do our best to keep it balanced so the babies are not always getting something while she is not. I think this happens especially since babies outgrow clothes so fast and thus tend to get new clothes more frequently.
Here are some ideas of one-on one things you can do with kids
Have a Movie night
Grab a movie and watch at home or at a movie theatre together. Fridays at our home is our pizza and movie night with our daughter. She gets pizza and picks a movie of her choice to watch when her siblings go to bed. Its a time she has come to love and treasure so much.
Take a walk outside together
No matter the weather, kids would always find ways to have fun outside. My daughter loves to play in the rain or run around in the snow and during summer she loves to ride her car around.
Run errands together
We do grocery pickup every other Saturday so I would usually take our daughter with me to have some alone time with her. Especially with the pandemic, she does not get to go out much besides school so she loves this.
Eat out together
Grab your sibling and get something to eat together or pick up some food to eat at home.
Before bed we would watch a bible story and then do a scripture or fruits of the spirit or the bible study for the day, pray and then head to bed.
There are so many fun arts and crafts ideas to do with kids and they love it!
Play games together
My daughter loves to play hide and seek or turn the living room to a hot lava adventure when her siblings are taking a nap so we do this together.
Ask them questions
I sometimes look up a bunch of questions to ask kids and go through them with my daughter for some extra fun.
Having additions to the family is a very exciting time for everyone. Many children will go through some form of adjustment when a new baby joins the family so I hope these tips are helpful in preparing your older siblings for a new baby.