A common stressor when adding a new baby to the family is how to ease the transition for your older children. Will they be jealous? Or even resent the new baby? How do you encourage family bonding? Will there be enough of you to go around?
(I currently sit here blogging, breastfeeding, and cuddling with my 2 older girls. Yes, there will be enough of you to go around! It may be a stretch at times, but it can be done! ❤)
None of us really know what we’re doing when it comes to parenting. I, perhaps, least of all. Every kid and every family is different, but things have gone pretty smoothly for us so far! Here is how I approached our family bonding when number three came along.
I started getting my girl(s) excited as soon as we decided it was time to tell them about our upcoming addition. I referred to him as OUR baby, as in, our whole family’s baby. THEIR new baby brother.
The girls attended doctor appointments with my husband and I. (We brought snacks and electronics in case the girls got antsy. Of course, this was before I switched to a home birth midwife!) We listened to the baby’s heartbeat together. My midwife would involve them as well – like, for instance, letting them squirt that cold gel on my belly for the sonogram.
I showed my daughters pictures of the baby in utero week by week. I read aloud the updates of baby’s growth progress and taught them about baby’s development. We brought them to our ultrasound appointment to see and hear the baby in my belly. Our girls got to experience the entire miracle of growing a baby along with us!
When my friends threw me a sprinkle, I took my 5 year old along. I told her my expectations for her behaviour beforehand (and threatened to send daddy to take her home if she misbehaved!). She felt so grownup and behaved like an angel! She and I opened baby gifts together and she got to help serve cake. All of which I think it made her feel important, loved, and most of all, included!
Sharing my excitement with the girls helped THEM get excited too. If I was online shopping, I would exclaim over things I wanted to buy and how cute the baby would look in his little clothes. Asking their opinion on his outfits, etc. never hurts, too. You don’t necessarily have to follow through, but talk decisions over with them – kids love giving their input!
I feel like all these little actions and activities were building blocks to the family bonding experience after baby’s arrival!
Baby’s Birth day…
About an hour after I had the baby at home, we let the girls meet him in our bedroom. We oohed and ahhed over the baby together. I exclaimed, “Aren’t his feet so tiny?? And see his little fingers??”. And then I pointed out his scrawny little butt (because butts are funny to a 3 and 5 year old!) and we laughed together. They didn’t feel excluded or ignored at all, because this was OUR baby and we all loved him.
A few months later….
We love on the baby together. We laugh at his silly faces, or messy hair. And when I sit down to feed the baby, the girls and I will often have story time. They enjoy helping me with the baby – picking out his outfit or grabbing him a new diaper. The older kids and I can simultaneously bond with the baby by me simply including them in his day. My three year old didn’t bond instantly with the baby… no animosity towards him, she just seemed like she could take him or leave him most of the time. Ha! But, 3-4 months later, she began spontaneously giving him kisses, and just generally paying him a lot more attention than she did at first.
If you’re expecting a new little one soon, don’t worry! There’s always enough love to go around! And every baby you add to your family seems to make it sweeter and sweeter.
How did you encourage your children to bond with their siblings?