New babies mean change and children can struggle with change just as we adults do.
It can help to involve them in the process from pregnancy through to the baby coming home…how much you choose to share with them is of course up to you and is dependent on your child’s level of emotional maturity more than their chronological age.
If your child shows more interest in the baby (and some won’t, which is also ok so don’t force it), you can encourage that by:
- going through their own baby pictures with them – tell them stories associated with some of the pictures
- reading books about childbirth (there are lots out there so just make sure they’re developmentally-appropriate for your child)
- visiting friends who have infants or small babies to orientate your child to having a baby around
- packing a bag for the hospital and letting them help you with that – this is also good for flagging to them that you will have to go to hospital to have the baby at some point
- thinking of potential baby names – as a family each person suggest 2-3 potential names for both boys and girls and agree that the babies name will come from that list (rather than saying your child can choose the name)
- going to the doctor to hear the baby’s heartbeat – this can be a really lovely experience for your child and makes the concept of a baby in your tummy all the more real for them
- agree some jobs that they can help with when Baby arrives – perhaps have them mirror what you do with the baby on their baby doll so that as you change the babies nappy, they change their baby dolls nappy etc.
Your child may well be excited about the impending new arrival but will still want to know that they are special to you and that they matter. Build in some one-to-one time both during pregnancy and afterwards and check in with them about their day every day, perhaps while the other parent is there to mind the baby.