Being pregnant when you have children already can be exhausting, especially if they are toddlers at the time. All that bending, picking up and being climbed on takes a physical toll, but there can be an emotional one to contend with too.
Introducing a new baby in to a family, regardless of its size, means a change in dynamics, and there’s always the fear that sibling rivalry will start from the very outset. Young children can find it hard to understand what is happening, and why baby needs attention straight away, and can often feel unintentionally left.
How do you make sure that your existing children, regardless of their age, are included throughout your pregnancy, and are as excited about the new arrival as you are?
Here are some of our top tips:
Be around young babies
We’re not talking about stalking new mums in the supermarket, but if you have friends that have young babies, make an increased effort to spend time with them when your children are around. Let them get used to what newborns look like, sound like, and how they behave. Give them the opportunity to ask questions about how babies like to play, and what feeding routines they have so there are no surprises when your new arrival appears.
Talk about the baby
Make a point of talking about the baby while you are pregnant, certainly when you have a bump. Encourage young children to feel the baby kicking, if you know your baby’s gender refer to her as he/her, or maybe give him a nickname.
It can be worth asking your children what they think the baby should be called, though do be prepared for some pretty unique and unusual suggestions on this front!
Take them to appointments
If possible it can be a good idea to take children to your midwife or hospital appointments. Not ever doctor or hospital approves, and will have some limits on how many people can be with you, but it’s worth discussing with them.
Young children are naturally curious and will want to ask a million questions. Being able to see their new baby sister/brother on a scan, or listen to his/her heartbeat can make the whole thing seem more real to them.
Include them on the maternity photos too. This helps the the child to feel included and seeing the photos will show them just how much they are loved and part of the family unit.
Encourage them to pick gifts for the baby
When you are buying things for the new baby, whether it’s sleepsuits or a new pram, do your best to involve your existing children in the process. Ask them for their opinions, and see if there is anything they would like to buy for the baby. Of course, everything will depend on their age and level of understanding, but make them feel that they are part of the process.
Don’t just focus on them being a big sister/brother
While all the “I’m going to be a big sister/brother” t-shirts are adorable (and make amazing photo op’s) it’s important to remember your child is an individual in their own right, they are not just a big sibling. Make sure you spend as much time doing things with them that you would normally do, even after the new baby has arrived.
Ask people to think of your older children
We all know that when baby arrives the family and friends are likely to descend en masse for cuddles. It’s lovely that they care, but ask them to remember you have other children, and that the focus should not just be on your gorgeous newborn.
If you are recycling a lot of items, and therefore don’t need more babygrows etc, perhaps ask people to buy a gift for your older children instead of the baby. Do you really need another rattle, or would a colouring book be better appreciated? Something your children can do with you quietly while you are feeding or baby is sleeping?