Since going live with my ideas and website, I’ve had several questions about how to prepare for the birth of a sibling.
I’ve amassed a wealth of things I wish I had known and realized the first time round, and was blessed to implement with the birth of my third baby. What follows are vital insights and key information.
To share this with you or your pregnant friend makes me feel so fortunate to spare you the pain of a suffering first-born child.
For the eldest child, the arrival of a sibling is akin to your partner coming home with another lover.
All emotions can erupt; distress, anger, jealousy and intense feelings of separation from you.
When a child feels separate from you, they can’t feel your care. To provide for play, learning, growth and rest we need attachment.
When a child doesn’t feel your love, they can’t relax, and a state a high alarm persists. Being on continual alert can give rise to agitation, aggression, restlessness, anxiety and a whole host of other facades.
But we can prepare for the birth of a subsequent baby and both conjure love between siblings, and connection between us and our older child.
Here are the eight ways:
1. Dose up on love How you start off is important, and sets the tone. Keep hold of your eldest with so much love. One way into her heart is through a dedicated 'special time'.
This can be just five or ten minutes when you know the baby is asleep. Here you put on a timer on and admire her and whatever it is she wants to do. You let her take the lead, be completely present and let you your love ooze into her.
2. Allow the feeling Your child may feel apprehensive in late pregnancy or when the baby is here or not at all. When she is feeling uneasy, try and be present with her, you could try laughter as this is a good, light way to dissolve the anxiety. If she is laughing as you are goofing around and accidently hurt yourself, this is great, keep being goofy!
There will also be times when nothing is right and then a limit set with warmth is so important as this allows her to cry about the things she can not control. Her world will completely change with the arrival of baby. To allow her to feel the sadness for this, allows her to move and release this feeling.
3. Fun while feeding Just the thought or sight of you feeding causes distress and a lack of connection for your child. Your eldest sees that beautiful closeness between you and baby, and knows the spaces between feeds are slim. Feeding takes so much time in the beginning and this time apart from you can really affect your older child.
Before the baby arrives prepare many things your child can do while you are feeding. Obviously age appropriate but ideas include sensory bags, sticker books, audio stories, jigsaws, simple crafts that don’t need adult help. Given how many feeds there are in a day, let alone a week, invest time, energy and resources in stocking up on activities.
You could also ask friends and family for gifts for your older child. This counters the distress your child can feel when baby only receives gifts.
Before a feed, get a fresh activity ready. Sometimes, simply prepare a snack for your child to enjoy while the baby feeds.
4. Give responsibility Give your child responsibility, for example getting nappies and clothes for the baby. For an older child, you could help them change a nappy. 5. Baby the eldest I know I just said give responsibility. Yet at other moments baby the older child. Pre-empt her desire for being held like a baby again, help her get dressed or brush her hair. When she sees you do everything for the baby, lift her heart with these gestures that shout ‘I’m looking after you too!’
6. Ventrilloquy Ventrilloquy worked really well for me in the beginning and still does before baby can speak for herself. Here you speak as if the baby is speaking to your eldest saying things like "I am so lucky to have you as my big sister, I am so looking forward to playing with you when I am older, this is how I liked to be stroked (you show how to as often siblings can be quite rough!)” 7. Foster love Your older child will have so much love for the baby and we must find ways to allow her display of love. Often we easily say lots of no's because older siblings cuddle too tight or stroke too rough. However, to allow the love between siblings from the start will be a blessing.
Notice when she is gentle and recognise this. Big up when the baby looks in her direction and wants her attention. Allow the sibling snuggle time with the baby. Make space for your eldest to show or read her a story. Admire pictures and writing made by your eldest for the baby, these are genuine heartfelt tokens of love. 8. Birthday book
Oh and finally, I made a book each for my older daughters and said this was from the baby on her birthday. So the day their baby came into the world, the siblings had a special book with photos of them, and a message from the baby. They will always cherish these books.
I wish you boundless moments of togetherness with your families.
Do you know a mother with a new baby or expecting one soon? Send her this article so she can prepare herself and her children.
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