by Linda McQuinn Carlblom
The sweet baby in the picture is our new grandson, Titus Xavier, being held and admired by one of his three older brothers and his only sister. That makes five grandchildren for those who are counting. They all belong to my daughter and her husband, who are absolutely the best at integrating a new baby into the family. To my knowledge, none of their children have ever been jealous of their new siblings or felt left out. I'd like to say I taught them how to adjust so nicely, but I'm pretty sure I had nothing to do with it. Here are a few tips I've learned from watching them and others add to their families.
1. Share the new baby news with your children first. Enjoy the secret for a few days or even weeks within your own family before sharing it with the rest of the world.
2. Include the kids in coming up with how you’ll tell others your good news. Be creative! Maybe they’ll design a puzzle for people to figure out or sign a card with their handprints and include one extra tiny handprint as the announcement. Think outside the box. Listen to everyone’s ideas with equal respect.
3. Allow your children to go to ultrasound appointments with Mom to see their new baby. This helps them understand there really is a baby growing in there! If they don’t go along, show them the ultrasound pictures and talk about the new baby. Who does he look like? I wonder what his favorite color will be.
4. Let children hug Mommy’s growing tummy. Encourage them to talk, read, sing, or kiss it if they want. Anything as long as they’re kind and gentle.
5. If a child’s nervous about having a new sibling, listen and validate his feelings. Assure him what he’s feeling is normal. Shaming has no place in a loving family. Build up the child by reminding him of all his positive character traits that will make him a wonderful big brother. Remind him God is there to help him in his new role.
1. Have kids draw or paint pictures or cards to take to decorate Mom and Baby's hospital room.
2. Introduce the new baby to your older children privately. Have some special family time before allowing extended family in to see the new baby.
3. Allow them to sit and hold their new sibling if they want, giving gentle instruction on how to do it. Praise him for his gentleness. Respect their wishes if they aren’t interested or comfortable holding the baby.
4. Let children help you by carrying the diaper bag, getting needed items for you, bringing the baby a toy, etc.
5. Don’t expect your children to love the baby like you do. They may be uninterested and would rather play.
6. If your child wants to take pictures of the baby, let him. It’s a way to show he’s growing up and is proud of his new sibling. Let older siblings take their pictures to school.
7. Make special time to spend with your older children. Give them lap space, time to read books with you, play a game, do a puzzle, take time to talk about what's happening in their world that doesn't necessarily revolve around the baby.
How have you welcomed a new little one into your family? What worked? What didn’t?