About 40 percent of families think that having three children is the perfect amount of kids. However, as perfect and ideal as growing your family may be, introducing these new siblings to your firstborn can be quite an unexpected challenge. A new baby that takes up all of mom’s time can be a major stressor to your firstborn. It’s beneficial to help your firstborn adapt to change both before and after the baby comes.
Here are some helpful tips and tricks to helping your firstborn adapt to a new baby in the family.
Positive Parenting Solutions for Helping Your Firstborn Prepare for Change
Helping prepare your firstborn for a new addition to the family is no small task. It most certainly does not happen after one conversation or overnight. It can take time for your firstborn to fully grasp even after the baby has been around for a while that they are here to stay.
Here are some activities you can do during each critical stage of introducing a new little brother or sister to your firstborn.
Before Their Sibling is Born
A good way to introduce your firstborn to the idea that of a new sibling is by reading books about the same scenario. There are tons of children’s books available that deal with the main character becoming a big brother or sister.
Think about buying a few and read them every night. Tell your firstborn that they will soon be just like the main character because they will also get a new little sibling.
When You Bring Their New Sibling Home
A popular tactic that many parents use when introducing a new baby to their firstborn is by bringing them a “gift” from the new baby. This speaks in the language that a young child or toddler is familiar with.
You can also do the reverse. Help your firstborn pick out a gift to give to their new brother or sister. Or, have them draw a picture for the baby or pick out their favorite book to “give” to them.
Fostering a loving and caring relationship right from the get-go can help create a good relationship between your first and second-born children.
During the First Year
The weeks and months after you introduce your firstborn to your second born are so important. This is when their new reality sets in and your firstborn realizes there is no going back to when it was just them, mom, and dad.
One way to help your firstborn adapt to change on this kind of level is to include them in all the activities surrounding the newborn. This can mean having them help out with bath time, picking out clothes for the baby, or helping to console them when they are fussy.
Toddlers love to help participate, so use this time for an extra set of tiny hands.
Another good tip is to still prioritize spending time between just you and your firstborn. When the new baby is napping or even if it’s during your firstborn’s bath time, make sure you spend quality time without the baby around. Plan to have “mommy-and-me” dates with your firstborn every now and then.
Common Ways a Firstborn Could Act Out
No matter how much preparation you provide to your firstborn for a new family addition, or how even-tempered they might be, not every child is perfect. It is still totally natural that they might act out at some point.
Common ways a firstborn could act out is by regressing. They see you provide attention every time the new baby cries or needs to be changed and may want in on the action. They may try to imitate the baby’s behavior.
They may also not realize that a baby is delicate and might try to play rough with the new baby. Always remind them to be gentle, and let it serve as a good teaching moment.
If your firstborn acts out, be sure to acknowledge their feelings and emotions. Listen to them and do your best to make them feel understood.
Seek Out Parenting Advice from Parents Who Have Done It Before
One of the best things about parenting is that you do not have to figure it all out on your own. No one expects you to have all the answers. You can ask for help from those who have been in your shoes before.
Ask your friends who have at least two kids how they introduced a new little brother or sister to their firstborn. Ask what parenting strategies worked for them and which ones did not.
Seeking out some parent mentoring or even parenting classes can be extremely beneficial if you are worried about your firstborn adapting to change.
Search for the best parenting books that can help to provide further guidance on helping your firstborn adapt to change.
Looking for More Ways You Can Help Your Firstborn Adapt to Change?
If your firstborn reacts badly to a new addition to your family, don’t think it’s because of bad parenting. Though it can feel like a difficult and challenging process, it is perfectly normal.
With several parenting strategies listed above, you can help your firstborn better adapt to change.
If you want more parenting hacks and advice for families with two or more kids, check out Ask Mom. There you can find the best tips and tricks to parenting gathered from years of experience.