Having a baby is one of the most exciting times in your life. Whether it’s your first, second, or third (or more!) child, each one is special and an important part of your life.
However, in all of this excitement, the older children are often forgotten and this can lead to problems down the road.
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Instead of letting this feeling become a lingering concern, it’s important for parents to take initiative and pinpoint how the older sibling(s) can help with a new baby.
10 Ways Your Children Can Help With A New Baby
1. Picking Names
This is a good starting point and truly brings the siblings together. If an older child feels involved in the process, they are less likely to feel troubled by the arrival of yet another child and this can make things easier on parents.
One of the ways an older child can help is by going through the name-picking process.
It can be a great way to have them feel in control of what’s going on. Plus, they might have a few good ideas up their sleeve too!
Even if you don’t end up picking their desired name, it’s still going to feel like they have a say and that’s the essential bit.
2. Talk to the Baby
Interaction with the newborn baby is an integral part of the bonding process and can also keep the baby entertained.
Even if the older child is a bundle of energy, they will enjoy having the ability to communicate with the baby. Even if it is something the newborn baby doesn’t understand, they will pick up on emotions over time and that sibling bonding time is so beneficial.
It can also be a good way to take a step back and enjoy how the siblings interact with each other.
RELATED: Introducing your toddler to your baby
3. Dress Them
Newborn babies are going to be changed all the time and this can involve older children.
For example, let’s assume the baby has just woken up and it’s time to take them out of their pajamas. Allow the older children to pick out their clothes or help put on the slippers/shoes. It is all about the little things.
All of these little details add up over time because the older children are going to remember these moments.
I am not recommending you let your 3 year old dress the baby, but if the older child is 10 or 12, they might be willing to gently try with some guidance from you.
4. Feed Them
In general, the average newborn is going to be fed breast milk. However, if you are going to be feeding them through a bottle, it is lovely to have the older children help out.
Feeding a newborn isn’t difficult as long as you are sitting right there as a supervisor. They will be able to hold the bottle in place and it is going to create another way for them to help out.
RELATED: Guide to bottle feeding
5. Burping the Baby
Burping the baby is essential and there’s nothing better than having an older child gently rub the baby’s back. It will help them understand how important it is to keep the baby healthy and happy and how to be gentle with them.
This is something older children are able to pick up on and it can go a long way in their bonding with the newborn baby.
6. Pushing the Stroller
Are you going to be heading outside with a stroller? You may want to think about letting your older children push the stroller for a bit. This isn’t going to be a major task and it will allow them to feel in control.
The stroller is a lot of fun for older children as well and can be a good source of responsibility as you look to get them involved.
Little children will need help steering and guiding the stroller, while older children may be quite capable of doing this all by themselves.
Be mindful of busy roads or steep hills!
7. Helping Bathe the Baby
Baths are a daily part of life for newborn babies and you will want to do this as gently as possible.
An older child can help with some of the tasks whether it’s rinsing the baby or simply choosing the products used to wash them.
Always supervise baby in the bath and do not leave them unattended, even if it is with an older sibling, those soapy babies are slippery!
8. Playing with the Baby
Kids love playing and that is going to be the case with a new baby too. Older siblings will want to take out the baby toys and fool around for a bit.
If that is the case, you can allow them to take out suitable toys and simply entertain the newborn. When done in the right manner with your supervision, it can be a great way to keep the newborn engaged and the toddler busy!
9. Wiping the Baby’s Mouth
If the baby is being fed, they are going to have a bit of drool. Even when they are not eating, they are going to have drool to contend with!
This is where an older child can be of great assistance. You can have them grab a small cloth to dab away the drool.
10. Supervising the Baby
Responsibility is a wonderful way to make older children feel included. For example, let’s assume you are writing something down, why not let the older children sit and supervise the baby?
Of course, this depends on the older child’s age, but it can be a great way to get them involved especially if they are 4+ years of age and capable of being responsible.
Always make sure baby is somewhere safe and unable to fall or be knocked when leaving a sibling to watch them while you are busy doing something.
Final thoughts of getting older children to help with a newborn
Indeed, this is going to be one of those challenging puzzles that have to be solved in your family’s own special way.
However, you will quickly realize how resourceful older children can be when they feel a part of the situation. They start to take personal responsibility for the new baby and this can be a tremendous thing to watch as a parent.
Doing this early on is going to set a standard and this will stay with them for the rest of their lives. It can become a great bonding experience for the family!