Bringing Baby Home

Bringing a baby home means many changes in the family. This can be hard for both the older siblings and the parents, but some planning and preparation ahead of time can make things easier for everyone.

Introducing a Sibling

There are many things to consider when bringing a baby home to siblings. Here is a list of things you can do to prepare your older children:
  • Try not to tell the child too early about the baby. Nine months is a long time to wait.
  • Point out other families with babies.
  • Always talk positively about the new baby's arrival.
  • Read children's books about pregnancy and birth.
  • Show them their baby pictures.
  • Take your child to visit the hospital so they know where you are going to have the baby.
  • Arrange a practice sleepover at the place where they will stay while you are in hospital.
  • Let your children know when you are leaving for the hospital, even if it is in the middle of the night.
  • Avoid immediate change for the sibling, such as moving a toddler from a crib to a bed, when you bring the baby home.
  • Promote the idea that the baby "likes them" .
  • If your children see you breastfeeding and want to try it, do whatever feels right to you.
  • Understand that older children will want more of your attention, including at night.
  • Acknowledge your child's feelings of jealousy.
  • Spend as much time as you can with the older children and make them a priority ahead of housework.
  • Make each child the centre of your attention for a few minutes each day, the way it was before the baby came.
  • Involve your children in the baby's care. For example, ask them to bring the baby a diaper at diaper change time.

Family Adjustment to the First Baby

Having a baby and bringing the baby home can be a huge change for you and your partner. These are some things to keep in mind before and after the baby arrives:
  • Use the time before the baby arrives to gather information about the changes you will experience.
  • Ask other parents how their relationship changed and what were their greatest joys and challenges.
  • Contact friends or make friends with people who have babies, or join a community group of new parents.
  • Try to "go with the flow" for the first little while. Things should settle down before long.
  • Take some time for yourself. Remember that the better you feel, the better you'll parent a baby.
  • If "the blues" turn into postpartum depression, get help right away.
  • It's important to realize that there is stress in relationships; make sure you take time for the two of you.
  • Ask a trusted friend or family member to watch the baby for an hour or two while you and your partner do something together.
  • Remember that the most important gift you can give your baby is not a perfect house.  The best gift is two parents who love each other.
  • Simplify your life during the first year of parenthood. Don't expect to maintain all the commitments and activities you had before the baby came.