How to prepare your children for a new baby

I've just had my fourth (and last) baby, and every time I've needed to integrate a child into the family dynamic there has been something to learn from the experience. It's a wild ride having children and you really do need to prepare them for life, and sometimes that's literally preparing them for THEIR life. Here's some things I've learnt over the years of introducing a sibling to the group - please share the techniques you've used too! I'd love to hear them!

1. Prep, prep, PREP.

Whatever you do, don't keep the baby a secret. This may seem really obvious, especially because you'll literally be getting bigger by the day, but include your other children in all of the baby preparations. Get them to talk to the baby through your bump. Ask them for help in choosing decorations for the nursery. Take them to buy a gift for the new baby, or ask them to make special cards. The more you include them the more they will feel part of things, and the integration will be easier.

2. Quality time.

Utilise every moment of quality time you can carve out with your children both before and after the baby has arrived. These can be little moments stolen whilst preparing dinner, or more planned excursions, but quality time really is a child's greatest love language so pour as many eggs as you can into that basket. This is especially important once the new baby has arrived. Your life can quickly become consumed with the needs of the new baby, but do your best to sneak a few moments with your others wherever you can too.

3. Careful of your language.

It's so easy to do, especially when you feel like the safety of your baby is coming into play, but try to avoid language which pushes your children out. "Go away', "leave them alone", "stop touching them" can all seem pretty harmless, but long term could present a resentment towards a new child. Instead when you see your toddler jabbing a finger in the newborn's eye, gently encourage them to use gentle hands and demonstrate the action rather than simply telling them to stop altogether. We want positive connections here, and for your other to children to feel wanted as much as the baby. 

4. Get them to help.

Responsibility does wonders to a child's self-esteem, especially when it is praise led and you pour out encouragement whenever they help. Getting them to hold the baby for you whilst you complete a task, asking them to to fetch items during a nappy change, or read a story to the baby are all really simple ways to include other children in the daily tasks of caring for a baby. Shower them with praise - you want them to know they have completed a job well done - but be mindful of the time you ask them to help. A teen may not be overly thrilled that every time they set upon a game they are then asked to stop and help with changing the baby. Use your wisdom here.

5. Say I love you.

Say it everyday. Say it all the time. Make it part of your everyday language and say it to everyone in your home. You'll no doubt be constantly telling your newborn how cute, loved and wonderful they are - do the same with your other children too. You really can't go over the top with this. 

6. Pray

Prayer is a powerful tool we have been given and God asks us to bring it all to Him. Pray for your children. Pray for your baby. Pray with your children for your baby. The bible talks about how when we pray for things our heart turns towards them so it makes sense that the more your children pray for your new addition the more ready and prepared they will be to accept them into their family unit. Pray, pray and pray some more.

What did you do to prepare your child/ren for your new addition. What things worked and what absolutely didn't? Share them below!

Until next time...


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