Growing your family is a truly exciting time for everyone! There is so much to do and think about when you’re adding a new member to your family, and one little person might have an awful lot to say about it. Changes can be hard for children, no matter how positive and exciting they are. This week, we have a few tried and true tips for introducing a new member of the family to your child.
Whether you’re due to deliver, adopting, or combining two existing families, age-appropriate communication is key. Discuss this exciting upcoming change with your child before the big change, helping them understand that they will be sharing time, space, and probably toys, but that they will soon have a new best friend for life!
If you or your partner are pregnant, explaining the growing process can be a fun lesson for your budding big sibling. Including them in bump photos, gender reveals, and baby showers can start them on the right foot of becoming a senior member of the family.
If you’ll be delivering at a hospital, be sure to prepare your child for your absence. Many children only know hospitals as a place you go when you’re sick or hurt. When you are suddenly gone, and come home unable to pick them up for a couple of days, this can cause a good deal of worry for little hearts. Explaining in terms you are comfortable with can help them understand that this isn’t a scary hospital visit, but an exciting one!
If you are preparing to move step siblings into the home, taking the time to let your children get to know one another’s hobbies and interests can help ease the shock of sudden siblinghood. Schedule play dates, lunches, and video calls to help ease the transition, but don’t force a friendship. Allowing them to respect their space and their boundaries might mean a few awkward family dinners, but it will also ensure that all of the children involved can come to this and future relationships from a space of respect and consent.
Sibling Shower and Baby-Moon
It’s important for your bond and relationship to remind your child that adding to your family will never subtract from your love for them. Take them on a special date, enjoying a day all about them! Give them a Yes Day, or let them be Mayor to find out more about what they love, how they see their home, and what they’d like to incorporate more of.
Hosting a Sibling Shower can be a fun way to celebrate your child’s new role in the family. Supplying them with books about becoming a sibling, perhaps upgrading from a toddler bed to a big-kid bed, or providing young ones with a special baby doll they can hold while the new addition is being held can make the transition feel more like a promotion than them being edged out.
Be sure to find time after the big addition to take one on one time with your little one, whether it’s a weekly coffee and donuts date, or a later bedtime and game night on weekends.
This change is going to mean sharing a lot of spaces, but that can be exciting too! Make an event out of redecorating your child’s new Big-Sibling bedroom. Choosing which toys can be moved into the nursery or new sibling’s room, painting, buying new bedding, and hanging fun pieces of art can make the change feel less like giving up space and more like growing your space together.
Many children will struggle with jealousy when their parents need bonding, feeding, or quiet time with a new member of the family. Finding activities or privileges your child can enjoy can ease the feeling of rejection, and help them look forward to this time. Allowing age-appropriate screen time, or having your child care for a doll or pet while you’re tending to the new addition can create a sense of responsibility and privilege rather than a sense of exclusion.
It’s common to see a bit of regression when a big change happens in the home. Moving homes, hospitalization, and changing the family structure all represent some of the biggest upheavals in a child’s life. If your child is potty-learning, you might see an increase in accidents, or your new reader might suddenly forget their ABCs. These are very common and should be met with patience. Your child may begin to test their boundaries, and even act out. Be firm about the rules of your home, but meet them with compassion and love to reassure them that a growing family means more love for them, not less.
We would love to hear from you! What methods have you found helpful, or have you found to fail miserably when expanding your family? Drop us a comment or email us at Hello@Wonderbunch.Com so we can share your experiences!
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