Congratulations, you are having another baby! While this is a thrilling time for parents, that’s not always the case for older siblings. Fear of the unknown starts to kick in… so I’m here to help you make that first visit as positive and memorable as possible for big brother or big sister. Here are a few tips that worked wonders for my family:
1. Make sure mommy doesn’t look scary. Hospitals can be a scary place, so if your child is visiting you and baby there for the first time, you want to make the environment familiar and safe. Avoid wearing a hospital gown if you can, throw on a comfortable outfit or robe that looks like something mommy would wear at home. Also, try not to be lying in the hospital bed when your child arrives. Standing or sitting up in a chair gives your child the impression mommy isn’t weak or hurt in any way. That everything is okay.
2. Don’t hold the baby. At least not when your child first enters the room. Allow your arms to be completely open so they can run into mommy’s arms. Having mommy away for a day or two can be tough, make your child or children feel like they have been at the forefront of your thoughts. After a long, tight squeeze, it’s time to introduce baby. I had my baby laying on the bed which was my kids level so after greeting mommy, they went over to meet their precious baby sister. Both of them climbed onto the bed and took turns holding the baby. It was absolutely priceless.
3. Display framed photos of siblings. This is a win win move. If you pack a few framed photos of your child or children in your hospital bag, you can display them while you are in labor. Their faces will help remind you that the pain is temporary but the love is everlasting. And then when your children come to meet their baby sister or brother, they will see photos of themselves decorated in the hospital room. Proving even more, that mommy was thinking of them too.
4. Big sibling special treat. Be it a cupcake or favorite snack or a special little gift, big brother or sister will welcome the sentiment. Baby’s going to receive lots of attention and gifts, sometimes leaving siblings a bit resentful. By starting off the first visit with a special gift shows them they too benefit from having this little person in their lives. Crafts, activities, puzzles and games work great. I wrapped a few activity toys that I knew they would like. As I gave them each their gifts, I told them this was from Katie, thanking them for being such an amazing big sister and big brother to her. They loved it!
5. Saying goodbye. Now this is the tough part. If you still have to stay in the hospital, saying goodbye to mommy and baby can be hard for the big kids. Again, I would suggest you not hold the baby while saying goodbye, only so that you have your arms free to love on them. If you took tip #4, they now have incentive to go home and start their activity or maybe eat their cupcake with Grandma. In addition to activities, I sent my two kids home with glow pet pillows so they couldn’t wait to go home and go to bed to watch them glow. Whatever the case, it definitely tugs at your heart sending them off but just reassure them you will be home very soon.
Disclaimer! Whether you take my advice or not, big brother, big sister, baby, parents… it is going to be a wonderful ride! If you have children and did some or none of these tips you also know it turns out pretty great regardless. Having siblings is the best gift you can give a child… speaking from someone who has 11 older siblings!
Now go enjoy your growing family!
-Lucy Riles, Life of Mom co-founder