Welcoming a new baby sparks excitement and nervousness for us as parents. With an older child, we made sure to find ways to prepare him for his sibling to minimise any sibling rivalry even with a cute bump. Afterall, it is a life-changing milestone for them and parents, it makes a difference if we can learn how to prepare our older children for a new baby!
We are not alone on this parenting journey! Let’s find out from other families in Singapore to discover some tried-and-tested tips on what they did to prepare their toddlers for a brother or sister!
Start talking to your older child even if he can’t see his new sibling yet
Carol recently welcomed her newborn and has a 2-year-old son. She says, “I remember doing quite abit of prep talk, explaining that his baby sister is inside my stomach, letting him touch my belly when the baby was moving and got him to say good night to my belly.”
Even if your older children can’t see their little brothers and sisters yet, it does help to involve them as they observe mummy’s bump growing through the months.
Personally, I did this a lot with Gideon too. It got to a point till he became a loudspeaker to everyone in school, announcing to them that he has a baby brother coming soon. After I delivered, his school actually sent me a small bouquet of flowers, which was really sweet of them.
Involve the kids with preparation and things related to the new baby
One of the ways to “see” their new siblings would be through ultrasound photos and scans.
“I also brought him to one of my gynae visits where he gets to see/hear things during the scan,” shares Carol.
With this simple involvement, it lets your toddler know that he/she is important in the family. At the same time, he gets to be part of mummy’s pregnancy journey too.
At home, let the kids make decisions and plans. The older children are now your little helpers, and one of the ways to make your life slightly easier after the bub arrives, is for the brood to be independent.
“I bought books about having new siblings to read to my elder daughter, giving her some ideas on what to expect when her baby brother arrives. He won’t be able to play with her just yet, and would be crying, needing diaper changes and drinking milk. So, we asked her questions about what she would do, how she would help with the newborn and all. I think that helps open up the discussion about the upcoming changes in our family too,” explains Cindy, mother of two.
Cecilia, who is expecting her third child, shares that she is more relaxed now when it comes to bubba matters. In comparison, she feels that she did more preparation work when she was expecting her second child.
She shares some ways of getting her elder daughters involved as they countdown to their baby brother’s arrival: “Read books about siblings, give lots of assurance, and get my older kids involved in choosing the things to buy and help. Now with 2 kids, they kind of know what to expect for didi. They themselves allocate things they outgrown to give to didi.”
She quips, “Or, rather, they want to give things they don’t want to the didi, including their dresses!”
Go easy and don’t stress yourself over wanting to prepare your kids for their siblings and expecting 100%
It’s a common worry for mums who may have “sticky” children.
Will my only child be jealous when the little one comes along?
Will he think that mummy and daddy love him less because we have to split our attention and time with the new child?
Pregnancy zaps a lot of energy and I was feeling very tired during my first trimester. As a second-time mum, I’ve to say I was more chill when it comes to preparing for our second baby. Yes, there were things to buy, wash, change and all. And I chose not to be too hung up over certain things, and I find that helps me feel less stressed too.
Like pregnant mama Cecilia explains, “I took the whooping cough vaccine and the second dose of my Covid vaccination. For a week, I couldn’t do anything even if I wanted too because I felt sleepy, had headache and took Panadol.”
Make time to rest and be happy, preggy mums! It’s really okay to surrender to how our body feels, instead of urgently trying to address our children all the time.
Be mentally prepared for your older kids’ regression when baby arrives
When the wee bub is finally out, your older kids would be in awe when they see this real person in front of them. There would be excitement, anxiety and nervousness. While parents are usually worried about how the older kids would take to the new addition, sometimes we may not foresee our kids’ emotional or physical changes that results. Not knowing what to expect, their inability to manage their emotions may probably manifest in other ways.
“When I gave birth to my second child, my elder girl had a bit of regression. Just have to be prepared for it. She was slightly over 3 years old. We didn’t expect it but she peed in her pants despite being toilet trained prior, so it felt like I had 2 newborns at the same time,” Cecilia observed.
Her word of advice: Be mentally prepared for it… And have more patience towards them.
Try to maintain the same routine, where possible
Now that we’ve a new playmate at home, changes in terms of time and attention are expected. Some kids don’t take changes very well, especially when they have to “share” their parents. Consider keeping their daily routine largely similar, with minimal changes. This helps him/her cope with the transition of welcoming a new sibling.
Cecilia reminisces what she did with her second child, “We tried to keep as much of the previous routine as much as possible too. Like I’d still put my elder one to bed etc. Just latched the baby to keep it quiet.”
Like I usually send Gideon to school and pick him up, I continue doing that after my confinement period. I still kiss him goodnight and tell him that I love him every day, giving him hugs at bedtime. I try my best not to let him feel left out. However, I do have to tell him to wait if he needs my immediate attention but I’m feeding his brother.
Let kids enjoy the new empowerment and responsibility that comes with their new roles
Letting the older child help with little tasks gives them a “grown up” feeling – they are now big brothers or sisters and can help with looking after babies too!
“We let our elder girl help apply body lotion for her little bro. When he’s crying, she’d run over to us to tell us. I remember very clearly a particular incident – our baby was trying to fall asleep in the cradle and he was crying. To our surprise, she went over to gently pat him on his bum to rock and was singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to him! At that moment, I felt like my 2-year-old had grown up overnight,” gushed Cindy.
Cecilia shares the same sentiments as she says, “Both girls now feel very proud to be big sisters. Especially my younger one; she feels like she’s grown up already and can do things on her own. I think they like the responsibility. So, when I ask them to help, they are very happy. She will be almost 3 when little bro arrives. When she sees that her elder sis can do alot of things, she’s excited too!”
Navigating through parenthood can be easier with like-minded folks like other mummies in the community. Let’s find our ways to raise children while juggling the practical bits of life such as financial planning for the family and your personal insurance too, mummies! If you need any tips on parenting decisions or working out your retirement plans, feel free to get in touch.