Welcoming a New Baby – Helpful Tips from Kaiako Danielle
Adding a new addition to your Whānau can be such an amazing yet questioning time. How will I have time for them both? How will I balance the different needs? How will my big kid cope with having a brother or sister? Will I love them the same? These are all normal questions and questions I remember asking myself as I went from having one daughter to two.
Being a Mum of three with two different age gaps, we have learnt different strategies for how to cope with an expanding family.
1 – The Reaction
When telling the news you are pregnant and your child/toddler is going to be a big brother or sister, you would imagine this being such an exciting time and something you can’t wait to do. However, do be prepared that your child may not understand in the beginning and they may express sadness, anger or frustration. In times like these it can be hard not to take it on board and feel upset, just remember unlike us they haven’t had 12 weeks to adjust to this news (if you wait to tell them). Ask them if they have any questions or concerns and answer this the best you can. A question that came from Lylah when pregnant with Mack was “will you still make me dinner when the baby comes”. It’s easy to give this a little chuckle, but these are real questions and concerns your child could have. Reassure them you are going to still have time to do all your normal things but just at a slower pace. Some children can really struggle with the thought the entire pregnancy but once the baby arrives it all changes for them, just give them time, they will adjust.
2 – Introducing the new baby
Even though your child won’t meet the baby until they are physically born include them in the journey of the lead up to this happening. Taking them to scans, or showing them ultrasound pictures of the baby. Maybe they could tell extended family that they are having a new baby? Once your puku starts to grow let them feel the baby when they kick and rub your tummy. Helping to set their room up or purchasing clothes or baby products can also be a great idea.
(There are great “big brother” or “big sister” books you can purchase from Kmart which is a great way to prepare your little one for the changes that are coming).
3 – A night away before baby arrives
For some parents they have never spent a night away from their big kid before the new baby has arrived. This can be an important step in assuring your big kid feels comfortable going to Grandma/Nana or Poppa’s house (or another family member/ friends) house when you do go into labour. It’s also a great way for the person who is looking after your child to be able to ask any questions that might arise with their evening routines. It’s also a fabulous way for you and your partner to be able to go and have dinner together and have a full night’s sleep before baby number 2 arrives. (Your welcome).
4 – A present from the baby
Giving your older child a small gift or card that the baby has ‘picked out’ for them can help them warm up to their new brother or sister. It could be a small teddy, special book or just something that you know your child has been wanting. A newborn baby is usually the center of attention and is getting a lot of gifts, so it’s nice for your big kid to feel special too.
5 – Special time with your big kid
This is not something that is going to happen straight away as you will be recovering from labour/childbirth and finding your feet with sleep deprivation and feeding again. Once things are more settled you could leave baby for a few hours to take your big kid out for a date, perhaps somewhere close to home where you can be called back. It can be something as simple as going to a cafe and having a fluffy and a piece of cake or a trip to the park together, something to fill your big kids bucket and make them feel special and like Mummy still has time for them. This is also something Dad could do in the first week of baby arriving.
6 – Celebrating your big kid
As the weeks go on sometimes the novelty of having a little baby in the house can wear off and your big kid can start to feel a bit frustrated with how much the baby needs Mummy. Putting a positive spin on things and celebrating all the amazing things your big one can do can help fill their buckets and feel a sense of pride and achievement. It can be the simplest of things such as, “wow you are such a big boy putting your pants on by yourself, well done.” Or for the bigger children, “thank you so much for putting your toys away when you were finished, that’s an amazing help.”
7 – Helping to look after baby
A lot of the time your child feels like they are missing out on time with you, after all they did have you all to themselves for a year or more! So, keep that time up as much as you can and include them! Whether it be things like “mummy really needs a nappy for the baby, do you think you could help me?” Or “the baby would really like you to help wash them in the bath, could you do that?” This also ties in the celebrating them and filling their buckets.
8 – Reassure them
We all like to hear “you’re doing a great job” and your big kid is no different. Every night when tucking them in remind them how amazing, special, helpful and important they are and reassure them your here for them, you love them, and they are doing an amazing job at being a big brother or sister.
At times you will have that “guilt” creep in when you see your big kid struggling with the adjustment of having a new family member. Remember, giving your child a sibling is one of the most amazing gifts you can ever give them, a future best friend, companion and playmate.
Written with Aroha, Danielle