One of the biggest hurdles many nannies face is helping an older sibling through the introduction of a new baby. We hear nannies bring this issue up frequently. There are many resources out there to prepare for and get through these changes in the household dynamic.
Things to do before the new baby’s arrival:
Make the child part of the pregnancy – Ask the parents if they’re comfortable taking the older child to prenatal appointments or including him or her in meetings with the mid-wife. Let the child listen to the baby’s heartbeat or feel the baby kick. This will make the child feel like part of the change.
Talk to the child about pregnancy and babies – Read books, talk about the changes Mommy is going through, and talk about babies. Preparation and knowing what to expect are key for children. Encourage questions!
After the birth:
Talk up their new status as “big brother” or “big sister” – Explain to the older child how important his or her new role is. Give the child some age appropriate responsibilities or tasks associated with the new baby. Let them know you need their help!
Spend individual time with the older child – Set up a special time for you and the child to do a fun activity that you like to do together. Make sure to give them lots of attention when you can.
Be careful what you say – Don’t use the baby as an excuse for why you can’t spend time with the older child. Use your words carefully. Be sure to draw attention to the older child as well as the baby when visitors are around.
Above all communication, routine, attention, and patience will get you through the adjustment. Let us know if you have any tips or stories!
Check out this blog for links to articles on how to prepare the sibling based on his or her specific age.
Some other links on the subject: