For older siblings, there’s a lot to get used to when a new baby comes home. And while you’re likely prepared for the transition during pregnancy or the adoption process, it can still be a shock to kids when the new little person is a crying, gurgling, ever-present reality. Luckily, there are little strategies and rituals you can start at home right away, to make sure the bond between your big and little bubs is formed early, and strengthens over time.
Call the Baby by its Name
Your oldest is no longer the baby of the house, and they might be in their feelings about that loss of status. Make a habit of referring to the new little one by their name, rather than with generic “Baby.” So instead of, “Let’s be quiet, the baby is sleeping,” try “Let’s be quiet, Gemma is sleeping.” For your older child, it will create an identity for the baby that is distinct from their own, rather than one that replaces their position in the family.
Ask Them for Toy Suggestions
Remind your older child that they probably know what their new little might like, since they were that age not too long ago. Ask for their suggestions of songs, stroller toys, books, and more. Let them know that their opinions are valuable, then reinforce it by complimenting them when your baby reacts favorably to a song or toy they recommended.
Make a Box of Outgrown Clothes/Toys/Gear
When it comes to reusing baby clothes, gear, and toys, getting the older sibling’s input is key to making them feel included. Designate a cardboard box as the “baby box,” and invite them to go through their clothing and toys to decide what they’ve outgrown that they’d like to pass along to their younger sib. This way, it won’t feel like something is being taken away from them, but that they are actively sharing their belongings with the new baby.
Ask for a Guided Tour of the House
Invite your older child to give the newest family member a tour of the house (with you carrying the baby). They can show off their own room, the bathroom, any favorite housepet nap spots, the playroom, the backyard, etc. If you can, record the guided tour on your phone—it’s bound to be a sweet and unique perspective of your older child’s world.
Get Help Feeding the Baby
Whether you’re breastfeeding or your baby drinks Aussie Bubs infant formula
from a bottle, you can get your older child involved in a daily feeding. Choose one or more tasks that are age-appropriate, to help your older child feel included in nurturing their new sibling: they can help close the curtains or lower out the lights in a room; get a fresh bottle and nipple out of the kitchen cabinet; make sure you have the right pillows for your comfy feeding chair; grab a clean burp cloth from the stack.
Have Them Pick a Special Sibling Song
Kids love music—singing to it, dancing to it, listening to it. Ask your child to pick a special song that will be just for them and their new sibling. It can be a silly made-up song they come up with on the fly (just record it or write it down, so you can remind them next time), a favorite song they already know from preschool, or a popular song they’ve heard you play in the car. Then turn it into a pre-bed or driving-to-errands ritual—when your kids are together, you can sing and play that song.
You and your older child may already have a treasured reading ritual. If so, enjoy that one-on-one time together, without bringing the little one into the mix. But also consider starting another reading ritual, where your older child “reads”—either literally, if they’re old enough, or just figuratively—to your new baby. Let them pick out which book to read to baby, and ask them to share why they think their little sibling will especially like it.