It’s an exciting time for any family when a new baby is expected, and there’s every reason to celebrate the joyous occasion. That said, sometimes it takes careful consideration when you introduce a new baby to the family. How will siblings react? Where will baby sleep? How will baby slot into the daily routine? There’s a lot to work out, and you only have nine months to do it in! Here are some tips for helping you make the extension of your family as smooth as possible.
Involve younger siblings
Depending on their age, you might want to involve siblings as much as possible when baby is on the way- but choose your timing carefully. With some children, the concept of a pregnancy taking nine months to complete is difficult to understand, so if you don’t want to spend the entire pregnancy explaining why baby isn’t here yet, you might want to wait a while before you reveal all. Many couples wait until the 12 week scan before announcing a pregnancy, but you might want to wait a little longer with younger children.
Once the kids are in the know, involve them as much as possible. Talk to them about the new baby, let them help to decide on names and perhaps choose a teddy for their brother or sister. Once baby arrives, let them help with small tasks such as changing a nappy or helping with bath time. Answer as many questions as your little ones have, and take the time to reassure them that they are still loved just as much as they were before baby arrived.
Once you know that baby is on the way, the whole family might need a little shuffle round. For at least the first six months, its recommended that baby sleeps in a crib in your room, so bedrooms don’t need to be switched just yet, but it is a good idea to start thinking about where people will sleep after that.
If you have toddlers still in a cot, you might want to consider moving them to a big bed. This can be a lot less disturbing if it’s done in good time before baby arrives, as the new addition in itself can be unsettling for some. If you prepare your toddler well in advance, when the baby arrives they are less likely to feel ‘pushed out’.
In the same vein as moving from crib to bed, other major changes in your toddler’s life should be timed a little more carefully too. Potty training can be quite disruptive to young children, so if your toddler is showing signs it might be an idea to tackle it now rather than wait until the baby arrives. It makes sense to take on one big change at a time!
Buying new baby items
It can be tempting to splash out on new baby items when there’s a little one on the way, but it makes sense to consider what you actually need before you spend. If you saved anything from previous babies, make use of them again! Ask around for recommendations on more expensive items, and refrain from buying too many clothes in newborn size. Wash all baby clothes well in advance and store carefully so that you’re not madly washing and drying when baby’s arrival is impending and you are heavily pregnant.
When a new baby arrives, friends and family obviously want to visit you. This is lovely! But for younger children- and you and your baby- lots of visitors can be quite unsettling. Agree a limit on how many should visit in one day, and ask friends and family to check with you before they call. It might also be a good idea to spend some time with older siblings to explain that the visitors are for them too, now that they are a big brother/ sister. Some children can feel left out when a new baby arrives, so take the time to help them through it if this is the case.
Stick to your routine
When a new baby finally makes an appearance, the whole family may need to make some adjustments, but it’s important to try and stick to your usual routine as much as possible. For younger children, daily routines help to make them feel secure, and when things are disrupted for a length of time it can be very unsettling. If you can, keep to your schedule of baby groups and after school activities as much as possible. Enlist the help of friends and family who are keen to help out, and try to keep things as normal as possible at home.
What are your top tips for welcoming a new baby to the family?