Having another baby can be such an exciting time for the whole family. It may be the first time you have a baby boy or girl and it's also the first time your older child is a big brother or sister. But you might be worried about how your oldest child is going to cope with having to share their parents with their little baby brother or sister.
There will be lots of upsides for your child to having a brother or sister, but it is a big change for them which you will need to support with patience and planning.
Breaking The News
It's probably best to wait until you are past your 12th week of pregnancy or have had your second scan to speak with your child about the new arrival. Not only will you know that your pregnancy is going well, you may also have a small bump which will make it easier to explain to your child.
Try and be as reassuring as possible. Let them know that having a new baby in the house will not mean that you will love them any less, but let them know that the new baby will need lots of your time as they are too little to look after themselves.
Here are some tips which can make it easier to explain what is happening to your child:
Preparing Older Siblings For The New Baby
Children can react differently when they are told a new baby is on the way. Some children might be anxious and bad-tempered. Some children might be as excited and happy as you are about a new baby. These are completely normal reactions to the exciting news!
Here are some things that you can do to help prepare your child for the new arrival:
Arrangements For The Birth
It's important that you arrange care for your older child which covers the time from the beginning of your labour. They may be worried about not being with you, particularly if you haven't been apart much in the past. The person who will care for them when you're having your baby ideally needs to be someone they know well.
A trusted relative such as a parent, a good friend or a babysitter may be able to help. Well before your due date, if they haven't spent much time with this person, invite them to spend time with your toddler while you or your partner are there. Then leave them together for a short time.
In this situation, it helps if you can call on an extended family of relatives or friends. It is important for all your immediate family network to know what plans are in place, so that you can try and avoid too many separations, new places and strange faces during this big change.
Meeting The Baby For The First Time
When the baby is born, try and introduce your child to them as soon as possible. Try and make it a really positive experience for your child. Give them lots of praise and encouragement. Allow them to gently touch baby, to stroke their feet or tummy and let them know they have to be gentle.
If your older children do not want to hold the baby or pay them any attention, that's ok. Let them do it in their own time. They may be nervous and just want to watch the adults before they have a go.
When your children see the baby for the first time, try to make sure that the baby is in their cot, moses basket, buggy or that someone else is holding the baby. This allows you to give all your attention to your child, give them hugs and kisses and let them know how much you have missed them.
You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of the Healthy Child Programme team.
Other parents who are going through or have been through this before can be a big help. You could join our online forum to speak to other Norfolk Parents below.