Preparing Faith for a new baby

I have been talking to Faith about her brother for months because I know it would be a period of great adjustment for her {and us as well}. I do not know what will really happen but I know for sure if I do not prepare her for his arrival, there would be very tough times ahead. I have heard stories from friends that the older sibling could get jealous and behave undesirably which add to the stress of the parents and I hope it would not happen to Faith! Nonetheless, I have prepared myself mentally for that but as much as possible, I wouldn’t want to disrupt her routine, so it would be business as usual for her.

I find reading really helpful in getting her to understand certain concepts of babies. Faith kept asking me if the baby could play with her or if he could stand, sit or read together with her. These are opportunities to tell her more about the differences between a big girl and a baby.

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The following are some of the things that I have done to prepare her for her baby brother’s arrival.

:: Talk about changes

Since knowing that I was pregnant, we have told Faith that I could not carry her and that she has to get onto the car seat or chair herself. Initially, she couldn’t understand why but with repeated explanation, she kind of get the idea. Now, the only person who could carry her is her father and she doesn’t expect me to do that even though at times, she fell asleep during our ride back. She would have to walk back to the apartment herself, holding my hands and with her eyes closed.

As my tummy gets bigger, I become more lethargic and there are many times that I told Faith that I am tired and couldn’t play with her. She could understand and leave me to play by herself. Perhaps, it’s down to the maturity of the child? Overall, I do think that talking about the pregnancy and the impending changes helps a lot.

:: Tell her the real things about a baby

That a baby cannot play with her yet and all he does is cry, drink milk and sleep. It’s always good to manage expectations and it’s rather common to have little ones think that a baby exists to be a companion to them. While that might be true, it is definitely a different story, at least for the first few months or even first year of his life.

:: Show her a real tiny baby

Nothing beats seeing the real thing. Thankfully, I have a friend who has recently given birth and F had her first-hand encounter with the baby. The baby obviously couldn’t play with her

:: Show her pictures of when she was a baby

Talk about how she was like when she was a baby, that she only drank milk and was breastfed and needed to be carried since she couldn’t walk yet!

:: Involve her in baby preparation

The baby will be bunking in her room and part of the room has to be allocated to her brother. We got her to give up part of her drawer space and placed the baby’s clothes in it. She also willingly parted with her pillows so that her brother could have them. When we were out shopping for a cot and mattress, she tagged along and we explained that they are for her brother.

:: Make them feel important

I have often asked Faith to be on standby and to render help to me when the baby arrives. She agreed and is waiting in anticipation for the arrival of her brother. She’s a big sister now! Let’s just see how she will really react when that day comes!

: Read books about being a big sister

books

Reading is a very good way to get Faith to understand what is going to happen when the baby brother arrives. Thankfully, our local libraries stock these books.

The following are for my own reference when the baby arrives:

:: Set aside time just for the older child. Carving out even 10 minutes a day when you and your daughter could have quality time together can make all the difference. It also shows her how important she is to you and that you also cherish that special one-to-one time. Β Be attentive to her in the presence of the baby so she feels that she is an important member of the family. Reassure her that your love for her hasn’t change.

:: Let her know that it’s natural for a big sister to feel proud and loving and yet at the same time, jealous and angry. Help her express her feelings but communicate clearly that it’s not okay to act on negative feelings. Praise her for good behaviour and be specific about it.

:: Invite the big sister to help and include her in your conversations and activities. In that way, she will be more eager to join in with the new baby and she will feel happy, valued and loved.

:: Try to keep as many of your old routines as possible. While there are many changes with the arrival of the newborn, the big sister needs some consistency in order to feel safe and at home.

Experience mothers out there, do you have other tips to share?

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