There is no doubt about it changes are happening for your firstborn. About 3 months out from your due date is a good time to start talking to your firstborn about the changes a new baby in the house will bring. There is a number of strategies and tips to make the transition easier for your child.
Firstly as a parent, no matter what the age of your child is I would step back, take stock and look at where they are in self help skills. Then start actively making them more independent from you. Do this step by step. It can be as simple as, can they get themselves a drink of water if they need to? Can they get the towel off the rack when they are out of the bath? Can they get out of the bath by themselves? The reason being that this is so important is that your child will go from being able to ask for a hand or letting you know what they need and expecting it to be done, pretty much straight away. One of the biggest changes they will face is “having to wait”. So start now, don’t jump up straight away and get whatever is requested, start stretching it a bit. Start making them more independent from you so that their frustrations at having to wait while you deal with ‘the baby’ are minimal.
That brings up the next tip – ‘the baby’ no matter how adorable the baby is, no matter how helpful the older child is…… after the first 4 weeks or so, well, they often start to wish that ‘the baby would go back where it came from’. Again frustration and tired of being second to ‘the baby’. So leave those two words – the – baby out of your conversations with your child once your baby is born. Just think of a different way to word things, like – “oh I can’t get you a snack now, I’m feeding the baby” change to “ I will get you a snack in 5 minutes when I have finished here” – or else you can just see them rolling there eyes at ‘the baby’!
Start to prepare your child in the ‘how your day will be different’ as you go about it now. As you go to kindy, mention that in a few weeks, you will have to carry the baby into kindy with you. When they are having a bath, talk about how you bathed them when they were a baby. Show them the videos of them being bathed, dressed, cuddled etc. Show them some of the presents they received or cards when they were born. The more you talk about this as you go about the next couple of months the more preparation and ideas they have of what a baby is like.
Try to see your child as the helper if they want – so be sure to include them into the nappy changes, buy them a little stool to have beside the change table so they can see and reach, perhaps their own pile of nappys and box of wipes to hand you. Be sure to praise them for helping in those early days. There is many other tips and ideas of helping your older child to adjust and it is worth spending some time, finding this out. If you’d like to follow this up just pop in for an appointment!