7 Tips When Bringing Home a New Baby Sibling
Newborn babies are quite small, but they can often stir up big feelings and questions. Especially if you are bringing home a new sibling. How can you help manage the transition of a new baby into your family? Who will watch your older child(ren) if you spontaneously go into labor? If you have a planned date for induction or cesarean, who can keep an eye on your other kid(s) for a period of time that could last for several days?,
When it comes to adding a family member, how your older children respond and the needs of your growing family may be unpredictable, but there are a few ways you can prepare. Here are 7 tips for supporting yourself and your family during this time of big adjustments.
1. Hire a Sibling Doula For Your Birth
Not everyone has family or friends around to care for your littles while you give birth. A sibling doula is a trained birth professional with the specialty of supporting families who already have children. This doula will stay at your home (or wherever you agree upon) with your older child(ren) while you go to give birth and take care of your newest edition. A sibling doula is on-call and able to drop everything to show up for your family. Sibling doulas can help put your mind at ease, knowing that you are entrusting your older children to someone who understands birth and its unpredictability, including the time and length! Sibling doulas typically charge a flat rate for being on call and for staying with your child for as long as your labor lasts. Or they may have a flat rate for the on-call period and then an hourly rate for childcare (if you have someone who might be coming to take over the childcare).
2. Hire a Postpartum Doula For Your 4th Trimester
Many sibling doulas can be hired to continue working with you and your family as a postpartum doula. The support that postpartum doulas provide is an invaluable asset to any family who is bringing home a new baby, and they can be especially helpful if you already have bigger children at home. Postpartum doulas understand birth, healing, and newborns. They provide baby care plus YOU care and can take over the care of older siblings as needed, to allow you to focus on your new baby and your healing, while providing entertainment and support through their transition to becoming a big sibling. They can be the key to your family’s smooth transition.
3. Make Alone Time For You and Your Older Kiddos
Babies naturally take a great deal of attention from their parents and caregivers and if an older child feels less in the spotlight these days, they may be right. Making dedicated time for your older babies, one-on-one, when possible, is important. Whether you have a toddler or a teen, feeling left out has nothing to do with age. Making special time for your older children can result in better feelings towards having to share attention and result in less acting out. Even carving out 15 minutes of solo time in a hectic day can be helpful. Family members or a postpartum doula can be an extra set of hands to create that alone time.
4. Set Expectations With Your Oldest Ones
The truth of the matter is that the addition of a baby into a family will change the dynamics, day-to-day, and leisure time for each family. While some older siblings may worry about having to share the time and attention of their caregivers, there are also lots of things to look forward to. During your pregnancy or when your baby first arrives, you can begin to prepare your older children for what life will be like with the new baby. At dinner time you can talk about where the baby will sit and who can help feed them. If you’re playing a game or watching a movie with an older sibling, you can say ”Do you think the new baby will like this game too? I can’t wait for us to play with her!” Show them pictures of when you took care of them as a baby to remind them that they got the special treatment too. Help get older siblings excited!
5. Patience is Key
Life with a new baby in the house means new responsibilities for everyone. The older sibling might be truly excited to learn how to play with and to help take care of their baby sibling, and there will be other children who will display much more hesitancy. It’s important to take cues from your older sibling as to how much they are willing to help you do for the baby. There are some who will need more time warming up to their new sibling before they are excited to help. And that’s ok! It’s a big change and transition for everyone involved. Be kind to yourself and know that in time, things will settle for your family as a whole.
6. Loving Reminders For All
When preparing to bring home a baby brother or sister, it’s important to remind your older child about the things that will NOT change with the addition of the new baby. Your older children still have the same place in your heart as they did before there was a new baby. How much you love them won’t change and neither will the value they bring to you or to the rest of your family. Remember, there is not a finite amount of love you are capable of feeling and most parents of more than one do share that when they meet their new baby, they are amazed to see how their capacity to love increases.
7. A Small But Thoughtful Gift
Sometimes a small gift from you or “from the new baby” is a nice way to show older children that they are being thought of. Times when you may do this could be when you announce your pregnancy to them, around the birth of the new baby or on the new baby’s first birthday. This needn’t be a big, elaborate or expensive gift. Just something to show you were thinking of them. These gifts don’t need to be anything sibling-related or have to do with babies, just something your child will appreciate.
Preparing for the arrival of your new baby and transitioning into a bigger family is a huge task but thankfully with the support of sibling and postpartum doulas, you don’t have to tackle this on your own. In addition to hiring the support of doulas with those specialties, you can do more to support your family, such as: dedicating time to your older children, setting expectations with them, having lots of patience, giving loving reminders, or even giving a small gift.
However you choose to support your family, remember that ups, downs are normal and you will surely figure it out in a way that works for you so that the whole family can enjoy the new cuddles, love, and memories that are headed your way.
Laura is a doula, a writer, and the mother of two incredible kids. When not supporting new families or her own, you can find her trying out new recipes in the kitchen. Laura is available on the boober platform for matches.