I remember being pregnant with Calvin and worrying so much about how Charlie was going to handle it and if I would be able to show enough love and attention to both of them. Charlie was three years and 9 months old when Calvin was born, so he understood what was happening and was pretty pumped to meet his baby brother. But still, he had been our whole world for almost four years and I was feeling all of the emotions. A few friends who had already had second kids gave me some different pieces of advice for introducing Charlie to his new baby Calvin, and I took what worked for us and used it again when we had Quincy. I thought I would share what seemed to work well for us when introducing our older boys to their new baby brother(s). Oh, and scroll to the bottom of the post for just about the cutest video of all time when Charlie first met Calvin 🙂
First, when you know your older child is coming to the hospital, send the baby to the nursery. Then when your husband or partner arrives with your child, they can go to the nursery and bring the baby to your room. This helps the older child feel important and in control of the meeting and also doesn’t put him in a position where he comes into your hospital room and sees you holding a new baby. This photo is what I snapped as Charlie brought Calvin into my room when they first met. I mean, just look at his face 🙂
When Quincy was born he was in the NICU for a week and we decided not to have them visit until we were moved to a room in the pediatric unit. I showed them the baby on FaceTime first since they weren’t able to meet in person right away. This time, because my husband was dealing with both Charlie and Calvin, I had Quincy in my room already but in his bassinet rather than in my arms. Charlie climbed right up into bed with me and wanted to hold Quincy (he was a pro at this point) and Calvin showed almost no interest whatsoever. It took him a couple of weeks to acknowledge him, but they’ve been besties ever since.
Before the baby comes, ask your older child if he or she thinks they might like to pick a present out for the new baby from them. Make it seem like it is a gift from them and their special treat to the baby, rather than you picking a gift for the baby (and not for your older child) which could create some jealous feelings. Take your child to the baby section of Target, or a Barnes & Noble or local store and let them pick out what they want. It doesn’t matter what it is — once Charlie picked a Hungry Caterpillar stuffed rattle toy and once he picked a lovey. But if he picked a rubber snake, I would have let him. Whatever they pick is what they think their baby brother or sister would like, and that is the point. Then wrap it up together and put it somewhere so they’ll see it and look forward to giving it to the baby. You can pack it in your hospital bag if you think you’ll forget, otherwise have whoever brings your child to meet the baby (if you are at the hospital) to bring it with them.
Also, pay attention to something your child is really into around the time the baby is coming. Buy them whatever that thing is — doesn’t have to be a special gift or sibling related, just something they’ll love, whether it costs $1 or $25. Buy it, wrap it up, put it in your hospital bag. Then after your kids meet, you can say “look Charlie, the baby got you a present! Would you like to open it?” Go with the flow if they do or don’t want to, talk up how much the baby loves the older sibling, etc. Charlie got a lego watch from Calvin and a BB8 (Star Wars) figurine from Quincy, and Calvin got a Thomas Train from Quincy. The baby will be getting so much attention and so many gifts that this gesture from the baby goes a long way.
If It Isn’t Love At First Sight
Depending on your older kids’ ages (or mood) they may not take to their new sib right away. It’s totally ok. They will grow to love each other. It might take a couple weeks (or months or years) but it is definitely normal for it to not happen right away. Charlie was 3 years and 9 months when Calvin was born, so he was old enough to be excited and absolutely loved him at first sight. It’s now that he gets more annoyed with him. Calvin on the other hand, was only 17 months when Quincy was born and at first showed no interest whatsoever. It took a couple of weeks for him to even pay any attention to him. I didn’t push it. I just let him come around to look at Quincy when he wanted to and let him do things at his own pace. I think it is really important to remember that they are so little and that they aren’t going to understand. We can’t put these big expectations on such little people. It is hard when you’ve had a baby and are emotional and hormonal and just want your kids to love each other immediately.
I would also mention that your older kids might act funny towards you after the new sibling is born. Charlie got extra clingy, which was fine and to be expected. I tried to take him on solo outings as soon as I could (Target, Grocery store, playground, for a walk around the block — it doesn’t have to be “special” each time — just an hour or so one on one without a baby around). That helped him a lot. Calvin got really weird towards me for a couple weeks. He had previously been my shadow and I had never been away for a night without him. But when I got home from the hospital he wouldn’t even stay in the same room with me alone. If my husband left the room he would cry or follow him. I knew it was a good thing — the way he was coping with my being gone and having a baby around me all the time, but it was hard for me. But he came around within a couple weeks and was back to being my shadow again. And he and Quincy are inseparable.
Oh, and as promised, my favorite video of the boys everrrrrrrr.
How did you introduce your kids to each other when a new sibling was born? Do you have any tips to add?