Bringing a new baby in to the family home can be a time of great joy and great change.
Excitement is in the air, a new baby for you, a new sibling for your child.
When and how to tell your child is a personal decision but there are some things you may want to consider.
How old is your child? A child aged two or under will not notice the changes in your appearance until you are quite obviously pregnant. An older child (especially one of school age), is more likely to notice changes in appearance or the fact that you are feeling ill or tired. Therefore, it might be worth considering telling them early on, so they feel included and can get excited along the way.
What to tell your child
If possible, tell your child together as a family, at a time when you are not rushed and have plenty of time to answer any of their questions. Do not expect it to be a one off event, discussions will need to take place many times over the coming months to help prepare your child. Expect all sorts of reactions, from great excitement, to little or no interest - all is normal!
Prepare your child
Having dolls to play with for girls and boys is a good way of allowing your child to explore their caring and nurturing instincts. Make sure you praise your child when they are being gentle with the "baby". Your child may be expecting a baby to play with straight after the birth, and can be very disappointed when the baby is too little. Books about a new baby in the family are great to buy or borrow, and are a good way to encourage your child to talk about the baby coming in to the family, in a relaxed way.
Consistency and routine
Try and keep the same routines in place, as with lots of other changes your child will feel reassured if their own routine is the same.
Once the Baby is Born
Coping with a new baby and a toddler or older child can be very demanding. Until now your older child has been the centre of attention. They may now think you are spending all your time with the baby and feel jealous. You may also find yourself feeling guilty, as you try to find how to balance your time and attention.
These ideas may help:
- your older child needs to feel loved and special. Talking with him about how he is feeling and telling him you love him may help
- try not to say things like "I can't play with you now/read to you now/help you now, because I am busy with the baby." This can add to feelings of jealousy for your child. Instead try saying "I can't do that now because my hands are busy", or "I can help you in just a moment"
- try to include your older child in the baby’s care. He will enjoy fetching nappies and toys for the baby. Talk to him about what you are doing
- when you are feeding the baby, have books or games ready for your older child. He may enjoy hearing a story or playing quietly next to you
- try to spend time alone with your older child.
Remember that you are only one person. Accept help from friends and family and be kind to yourself.