If you have a young child at home and a new baby on the way, what can you do to ease the transition to a larger family?
We had this delima and decided on a few things we wanted to accomplish: First, don't surprise the child with a new sibling - start talking about it as soon as possible; second, don't move the child to a new room when the baby comes because it will confuse them and make them feel like they've lost their comfort zone; finally, make the child feel included in the new baby process so they (hopefully) aren't resentful when you come home with your new bundle of joy.
In our case, the first thing I did was clear out the room I had been using as my office and I painted it a deep relaxing blue for my son. We were moving him to the bigger room because his old room (the nursery) is attached to our own and we would definitely be needing it for the baby. This was done around the 5th month of the pregnancy, so Dylan was able to see changes starting in his mom and start to get to know his new room.
It took about two weeks to do the room since I had a number of repairs to make and wasn't in a particular rush; it was a fun adventure for him to see the unfolding progress. Finally, I moved his crib and belongings over and let him take a nap in the crib. He was a little confused at first b ut because the situation was non-confrontational it ended up being quite relaxinbg for him.
Next I started on the nursery; tearing down the old decorations and painting it bright and girly. My son was more upset over these changes because it was starting to hit home that the older, smaller room was no longer his. At some point it hit home for him - the change was real.
Meanwhile my wife's tummy was getting bigger and she was beginning to transition into carrying him less. That was a harder battle to fight because he began to sense that something big was happening and he wanted to be comforted; however, we knew she soon would be physically unable to spend time carrying him - it turned out to be a good decision in the end.
When it was finally time for the new baby to arrive, I had my mother come down and watch my son so we could focus our energy on the labour and know that Dylan was safe. My wife's parents would also have been more than happy to take him for us, but it was important to us that he remain home in his comfortable environment. We're very fortunate to have such a close and supportive family.
Four hours after the baby was born, my mother brought Dylan to the hospital to he could meet his new sister. We’d been talking about her for so long, it was nice to see that he actually seemed to understand what he was looking at. It was a sweet family moment that I was happy we were able to share. Thanks Mom!</p>
Aside from meeting his sister, we made sure to have a present ready for him so he would know he was still important to us. Overall it was a very smooth experience.
It wasn't all fun and games, of course. Once we brought the baby home there was an adjustment period. It was one thing to meet his sister in the hospital but Dylan wasn't so pleased with the situation once there was a screaming baby sharing the house (and mom and dad) with him. Three days away from his parents took a toll and while he was very well behaved for my mother, he was generally inconsolable once we returned. Remember that he is only two years old - he was so happy to have us home but didn't know how to control his emotions.
It's been a few weeks now, and we've largely settled back to routine. Dylan has accepted Katrina as a permanent fixture of the house and treats her carefully and compassionately. When she cries, he seeks us to soothe her. When we feed her, he gently kisses her forehead. Adding a new member to the family is a major life event but it doesn't have to be traumatic.
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