Lately, it seems as though many of my friends are having their second or third child. While very exciting, this is also a stressful time for them and for their families. Even though they have nine months to plan and get their new lives organized, it is never too early to begin adapting to the coming changes.
Here are some ways to plan for bringing home a new baby when you already have kids at home.
Talk to your child from the beginning about what it means to have a new baby. Allow them to ask questions and respond with honest answers as well as correct language. This is a huge time of change on multiple fronts: physically, mentally, and emotionally. Be ready for some difficult conversations. Keep the dialogue going throughout the pregnancy about the growing baby inside. If you are adopting, the conversations should be tailored to fit your specific situation. If you are not sure of the situation yet, be honest about that and explain as much as you know or are comfortable sharing with your other child.
Invite them to be involved
Involving your other children with the planning process of bringing a new baby home will help them feel loved, supported, and respected during this time. If you are preparing a room, have them help paint, clean, and arrange the furniture. If they are not able to help, have younger kids draw pictures to go in the nursery or help pick out paint colors and decorations.
Set your routine
By the time you bring a new baby home, the routine with your other children should be set in stone. Morning and nighttime routines should be played out as usual. Discipline methods as well as eating schedules should stay the same. Keeping changes to a minimum will help your other children stay on track and prevent them from being overwhelmed. If your child will be staying with friends or family, you should practice the plan for the day of the delivery. Schedule a few sleepovers or pick ups/babysitting by the person who will be taking care of your other children.
Stock up on favorites and treats
Having a well-stocked fridge, full of everyday foods as well as favorites, will make it easy for you to maintain your family’s meal schedule. If they are happy and eating, chances are good that they will more easily accommodate your temporary absence. Adding a few treats to the mix will keep your kids focused on continuing their good behavior. If your other children are artists, having a well-stocked supply is a great way to keep them entertained/occupied when you need to be with the new baby. Definitely stock up on art supplies and toys. Occasionally unveiling some new toys will also keep their attention for longer periods of time.
Brush up on social skills
For many toddlers, the concept of sharing has not yet developed. Practice this, and other social skills with their friends, before the baby comes to ensure they know how to behave appropriately. Practice using gentle hands and a soft voice with dolls and pets already at home.
Make it fun
Check out books from the library and rent movies that tell stories of families with new babies. Spending extra one-on-one time together is another great way to help your other children feel special. Remember to continue to schedule one-on-one time after the new baby comes.
Make the most of this transition for your family by planning and sticking to the routines that already work.
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