After we learned that we were expecting our second daughter, I anticipated that the hardest part will be taking care of 2 kids (Oldest- Arya – 3 1/2 years old, youngest – Avya 3 1/2 months old).
However, the toughest part was getting Arya ready for her little sister.
She did not understand that momma was pregnant or bringing home a baby. Being the only child so far, she is very close to me.
I have worked from home ever since her birth, so she has only been around me. And, after we got pregnant again, she started crawling into my bed to sleep on my belly.
Every time I mentioned a new baby sister, she would change the subject – intentionally, or not – but would pretend to not understand me and continue to snuggle even closer.
Now, our little one is almost 4 months old, and after some good and bad days, Arya has accepted her as her baby sister. She plays the big-sister role beautifully and is looking forward to her time with the baby every time.
So, here are some tricks and techniques to prepare your older child for the new baby. (I will use “her” to address below because I am referring to my preschooler here 😊)
How to Prepare Your Preschooler For a New Baby
Before the baby:
Talk about the baby – when you find out or when you start showing, start talking about the baby. Use terms like “baby sister” or “baby brother” or “new friend”.
Spend time with the preschooler – get as much quality time as possible because soon your attention will be divided.
Ask for her opinion when shopping for the baby.
Explain to her about her new upcoming role.
Sleep train/potty train before the baby – this goes without saying! I remember we did not fully get Arya into her own bed before the baby. When the baby came, she felt jealous because the baby slept with me and Arya had to move to her bed. It took a while to get her to love her room, and accept that the baby sleeping with mom now.
Hug her at first meeting – when your preschooler visits you in the hospital post delivery, give her a big hug. Try to keep the baby in the bassinet before she arrives so your full attention is on the her and not the baby.
Don’t force introductions – introduce the baby when the preschooler looks towards the baby or shows excitement and interest.
Remind her of her new role again – tell her that she is a big sister, and if possible have a big sister memorabilia for her.
Let her hold the baby – under supervision, let her hold the baby, or caress the baby.
Get a gift for her from the baby – we bought Elsa and Anna coloring book and stationary set, including dolls for Arya. She loved it and started referring to herself as Elsa and her little sister as Anna.
Let her help if she wants to – after the first few weeks, my preschooler wanted to change the baby’s diapers and give her oil massages. 😊 I have to be so careful because now she attempts to hold her all by herself.
Try not to use her things in front of her for the baby – children are very territorial about their things. Some can get jealous and even hurt if they see their things being used or shared with their sibling. Go easy if you intend to share things and use positive words to explain why you are now using her now-small-clothes for her sister.
Remind her of her big sister role – continue to positively remind her of how important and special her big sister job is.
Spend quality alone-time with her – this is very important. From the time Arya was born until the day I went to the hospital to deliver my second baby, Arya was always with me. Then I delivered and came home with a new baby who took all my time and attention. This made her jealous and, on many occasions, angry. To encourage positive behavior and maintain my relationship with Arya, I took her out (without the baby) on many occasions. Whether it was for yogurt, or to the park, or even a Target run, we spent time together and she enjoyed that very much. Her mood elevated from our little outing and when she came home, she was more accepting towards her little sister. When we are home, I try to spend time with her by coloring with her, reading to her, or just watching her favorite show together (while the baby naps).
Don’t make sudden changes in her routine from pre-baby – if you are planning to move your preschooler into their big-girl bed, do so before the baby arrives. Same thing with potty training. Any major change in your child’s routine should be made before the new baby. That way they are more compliant, less distracted (by jealousy or anger etc.), and do not start feeling that they are no longer your baby.
Don’t force her to accept the baby yet – Arya took about 3 weeks before she began accepting her baby sister. I was concerned because she showed signs of anger, jealousy, and even resentment towards me. However, she slowly realized that she is still mom’s baby and the new baby is an addition, not her replacement. This created a sense of security in her and she began enjoying her sister’s company more. Now as the baby turns 4 months old, Arya shows great care, love, and attention towards her little sister, and my relationship with her has returned to how it was pre-baby!
Patience is key, and I say this to remind myself also. Sleepless nights, housework, and taking care of 2 kids leaves me cranky, impatient, and exhausted. However, children do not understand these logical things. They understand love, attention, and care. 🙂
I hope you find these tips helpful!
Thank you for reading and if you found it useful, please do share ! 🙂