Coping with a new baby when you already have a child can be very demanding. It’s often hard for the older child too. Until now, they have been the centre of your attention. They may be jealous if they think you’re spending all your time with the baby. It can be hard to divide your time and attention too, especially if you are tired after a busy day or a wakeful night.
You may also find it challenging to give attention to them. There are things you can do to prepare your child for their new sibling.
Before the baby is born:
Prepare your older child by talking with them during your pregnancy.
Explain who will look after them while you have the baby.
Include your older child in getting ready for the new baby.
Make any major changes before the baby comes, such as moving the older child out of the cot or bedroom.
Show your older child they are loved and special by talking with them and telling them you love them.
Giving your older child a present from the new baby is a good idea too.
My 2 year old needed special time just for him when the baby arrived. Reading to him gave him that time - Saira, Wellington
After the baby is born:
Teach your older child how to cuddle, touch and talk to the baby safely while you supervise. Praise them when they do it well.
Explain to them how to keep the baby safe and make clear that only adults can pick up the baby.
Make sure they know that the baby doesn’t eat anything except the baby’s milk.
Include your older child in helping you look after the baby by giving them tasks like fetching nappies and toys for the baby.
Talk with your older child about when they were a baby.
Ask friends and family to give your older child some special time, and try to spend some time alone with your older child.
As much as you can, keep up normal activities like going to the park or playgroup together.
When you feed the baby, have books or games ready for your older child. They may enjoy hearing a story or playing quietly next to you.
Be patient if your older child becomes demanding or goes back to babyish behaviour. For example, they may start wetting their pants.
They may take out their anger or jealousy on you to get your attention.
It will pass once they get used to the change.
Talk with your older child about how they feel. Tell them you love them.
If you’ve had twins or a multiple birth, you may need extra help. You may be entitled to a government allowance if you have other children.
The New Zealand Multiple Birth Association (NZMBA) provides support, clubs, information and advice. Call them on 0800 489 467.