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Today I want to share some tips for you on how to make your child feel special about becoming an older sibling. As an older sibling myself, I feel particularly qualified in this department! This is me, the moment I became an older sibling in 1980.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: when my mom was pregnant with my brother, I thought for sure he was going to be puppies. Hey, I was five! I had just watched our family dog give birth to a litter and assumed that my mom would also have puppies. If not puppies, then at least a nice big litter of brothers and sisters for me to play with. I wasn’t expecting her to come home with just one little boy.
Since I spent five years being an only child, I had mixed feelings about becoming an older sibling. On some days, I felt like my baby brother was the coolest little thing ever. Other days-especially when he became a toddler-well, not so much. It’s REALLY hard to be the oldest and watch all that attention that you had all to yourself go to someone else.
My brother and his wife are both “babies” of the family, so I’ve designated myself as “oldest sibling advocate” for my niece, Abbie. My brother and sister-in-law are planning to have more kids in the near future and I want to make sure Abbie gets a fair shake!
I want to be an older sibling advocate for ALL kids! Read on for tips to make sure your child feels special about becoming an older sibling both during and after your pregnancy.
Parenting Tips to Get Kids Excited About Your New Baby
- Set them up for reasonable expectations: Maybe your child already knows that you’re not having puppies, but just in case, you may want to check on that. Seriously, it is a HUGE letdown to find out that your mom brought home something completely different than what you were expecting! I’m not saying you have to have “the talk” with your preschooler, but at least make sure your child knows exactly what kind of bun you’re growing in that oven.
- Ask for their input during your pregnancy: I’m not saying you have to let your toddler name your next child (my friend’s tot wanted to name her sister “Door”), but find ways to include them in decision-making processes. For example, narrow down five really great nursery prints that you love, then let them pick the one you’ll use.
- Feature them on the baby announcements: Those first days after the new baby arrives are often the hardest on an older sibling. I felt so left out when everyone was oohing and ahhing over my brother. Want to really make your older child feel special? Let her share the spotlight on the baby announcements! Tiny Prints has super stylish sibling birth announcements that show off your newborn’s picture, but let the world know that your older child is now a sibling!
- Set up special family time “dates” for her: Try to carve out “Mommy and Me” time for your older child as often as possible. I know that’s going to be really hard, though, especially if you had a rough delivery. So make sure your older child gets plenty of loving attention by setting up “dates” with other family members. Examples include a movie with grams or an ice-cream date with her favorite uncle.
- Give her truly important tasks: Look, don’t try to convince your older sibling that being quiet when the baby is sleeping is an important “job.” Even at five, I saw right through that! Enlist your older child’s help in a real task, like writing out all those “Thank You” cards from your baby shower! Older children can actually help you do the writing, while younger kids can do things like place address labels or cross names off your list. Grab your “Thank You” cards from Tiny Prints when you order your baby announcements and you’ll have one less thing on your to-do list!
- Celebrate her as an individual: If your new baby’s birthday falls close to your older child’s birthday, never assume that it’s okay to celebrate them together. NEVER. It’s not. Each child needs their own celebration, especially the older child! My brother and I had close birthdays (a little over a month apart during the summer) but my mom always held separate parties. You may be thinking “who on earth would DO that?” I wouldn’t bring it up if I didn’t have a reason, although I won’t out the culprit who was thinking maybe a joint party would be a good idea. Let’s just say he’s NOT an older sibling.
Take it from someone with experience in being the oldest, these tips for helping your child feel special about being an older sibling should help thwart the brunt of jealousy issues. Honestly, you’re still going to have an adjustment period, but as long as you recognize that your older child just really wants to be a part of everything too, you’ll be fine!
Are you an older sibling? Do you have any other tips to share? Tell us in the comments!