Expecting parents aren’t the only ones who experience an exciting, major life change when baby arrives. Sisters, brothers and even furry, four-legged family members also must adapt to a different household rhythm and new way of life.
Getting everyone in your household ready for this period of adjustment is a smart thing to do. It can lessen the stress of bringing home a newborn and give everyone realistic expectations of what to expect after your little bundle of joy comes home.
A bit of advance planning and open lines of communication can go a long way in helping to prepare older siblings and household pets for baby’s arrival.
How to Prepare Siblings
Proclaim your love
Let older siblings know that both parents have enough love to share with them and the new baby too. Reassure them that your love for them will not change—you will absolutely love them just as much after the baby has been born.
Give your child the opportunity to take care of a pretend baby. Both boys and girls can benefit from having a special doll to nurture and love during this time. The doll can also be used to practice proper holding techniques and gentle touching to be used with the real baby.
Recruit pint-sized assistants
Let your children know about all the things that must be done to prepare for baby’s arrival. Ask for their help and advice in setting up the nursery, buying baby clothes and picking out diapers and other needed supplies.
Share stories about babies
Check out books about babies and siblings from the library. Look at pictures of your older child when she was a newborn and share her story with her. Talk about her experiences and the special time you devoted to feeding, comforting and bathing her.
How to Prepare Your Pets
Take a break
Gradually start getting your dog or cat used to spending less time with you so that it doesn’t feel stressed or ignored when baby arrives.
Invite a baby over
If you have friends with babies, and your pet is well-trained, invite the mommies and their little ones to stop by for a visit every now and then. This can help your pet (and young children) get used to having a baby in the home. Of course, your baby guest should never be left unsupervised with your pet—not even if your furry, four-legged family member is famous for being super friendly and well behaved.
Make baby noises
Get your pet used to all the new sounds and noises that it will hear when your little one comes home. Play audio of babies gurgling, laughing and crying or simply sit and rock in the rocking chair. Play with your pet or give it a treat when you do this so that it associates these sounds with positive experiences.
Buy yourself a baby doll to help your pet get accustomed to the daily routines that will take place when the real baby comes home. Place the doll in your carrier or wrap, take it for a walk in the stroller with your dog, or give it a pretend bath and diaper change. All of this will help your pet feel more comfortable with the newest member of your family.