Although many couples these days make the decision not to know the gender of their unborn baby, because they want it to be a surprise, there are many wonderful ways to share the news if you do choose to know during the pregnancy.
My twin sister Sarah just found out she is expecting a ??? and let us all know by having us meet up for breakfast. She put my daughter B in a shirt with the word “It’s” on it, her son in a shirt with “a” on it and made L two shirts one that read “girl!” and one that read “boy!” It was adorable and caused such excitement! L felt very important that she got to be the first to know if her new little cousin would be a boy or girl.
Sarah also brought pink cupcakes to her work and other friends to help spread the word!
Pinterest is a great source of creative ideas. One we found was to have the Dr./nurse write down the gender and not show the parents. Then the parents give the note to a friend or family member who would then put blue or pink helium balloons in a box. The couple, with family or just by themselves, open the box to discover the sex of their baby with pink or blue balloons ascending into the sky.
Did you reveal your baby’s gender in a creative way? Please share (links welcome here and photos over on our Facebook wall!)
The seeds of sibling rivalry can be sown from day one of bringing a new baby home from the hospital. We’ve shared some suggestions on how to prepare your child for a new sibling during your pregnancy as well as for that first introduction in the hospital. But heading home with your newborn and setting a positive tone between siblings from the start can pose a challenge when you have a toddler or young child whose world is drastically changing. So to conclude our series, here are some tips on making the transition as smooth as possible:
1. Create a safe environment for the older sibling to become comfortable with the baby.
Big-sibs will need some time and instruction to help them become comfortable and competent interacting with the new baby. Try not to overreact when they do something incorrectly because they may get scared, withdraw and form negative associations with their new sibling. If you calmly explain how they can adjust what they are doing to make the baby even more comfortable, they will be much more receptive to your suggestions. Having said that, you should never leave a newborn unsupervised with a young child, no matter how responsible and loving he/she is with the baby.
2. Maintain the older sibling’s typical routine whenever possible.
It is reassuring for youngsters to have their meals, naps, daycare/school/classes remain as close to the regular schedule as possible during this time of transition.
3. Have realistic expectations for the older sibling.
Do not expect your child to become more independent when you have a new baby. In fact, children often regress to more baby-like behavior when a new baby is introduced into the family. Most likely everything will return to normal in a relatively short period of time, so be patient. No matter how prepared and excited a little one is about becoming a big sister or brother, there is bound to be an adjustment period. Do not force your child to connect with the baby; let him/her adjust at his/her own pace.
4. Praise the older sibling for positive behaviors.
It is extremely important to praise positive behavior and to try to ignore negative behavior, if it’s not dangerous. Most likely, negative actions are attempts to get attention; therefore, you will just be encouraging the behavior if you react. “I Am a Great Big Brother” or “I Am a Great Big Sister” reward charts can help everyone to focus on positive behaviors. By focusing on socially appropriate behaviors, you will help your child replace negative actions with desirable ones. Try to avoid potential acts of aggression toward the baby by expressing praise about how kind and gentle your child is being when he/she gives hugs, kisses or other appropriate attention.
5. Listen carefully to how your child is feeling and spend special alone time with the big-sib.
This will help minimize feelings of jealousy and uncertainty. Each parent should set aside one-on-one time with the older sibling so he/she does not feel forgotten. Even a short amount of time can go a very long way toward assuring that the older child does not feel replaced by the new baby. If possible, let the child pick the activity so he/she feels very important.
While everyone in the family adjusts there will inevitably be rough patches. However, by focusing on creating a positive environment your older child will be more apt to embrace and grow into his/her new role as a big sister or brother.
Because welcoming a new baby into the family can bring on a range of challenging emotions for young kids, we started a series to help you make the transition as smooth and positive as possible for them. We began with 5 tips that help set expectations for older siblings during pregnancy. Here are a few suggestions for a positive first meeting between your older child and your newborn at the hospital:
1. Have A Picture Of The Older Sibling Up in The Hospital.
This will make your older child aware that mommy and daddy have been thinking about him/her while they’ve been away.
2. Display/Use Big Sibling Activities.
Have your child wear his big brother/sister shirt or sticker and display any pictures or banners your child has made. Let everyone know, especially the big sibling, that you are celebrating his/her new role in the family.
3. Have The Older Sibling Meet The New Baby With Just Your Immediate Family Present.
Many people may want to see your child’s reaction when he/she meets the new baby, but this should be an intimate experience, not one that stimulates and sparks emotion with a potentially overwhelming crowd. You can always discreetly use a tripod to videotape the experience so everyone who wishes can cherish the special meeting forever.
4. Give Older Siblings Special Jobs For When You Are at the Hospital.
Your older child could introduce the baby to visitors, put on the baby’s hat, sing or read to the baby. Your goal is to make your older child feel important without pushing the new baby on him/her. If your older child would like to sit back and observe for a while, that is perfectly fine too.
5. Make Sure Your Child is Well Rested and Fed Before The Visit.
Introducing siblings for the first time may be emotional for everyone involved, so it is best to reduce factors that might add to that. Limiting hospital visits to two hours or less may also help keep things short and as sweet as can be.
Especially for toddlers and young children, welcoming a new baby into the family can bring up emotions of confusion, frustration and even fear. These feelings can cause them to act out in negative ways, interfering with the entire family’s chance to have a positive experience throughout the transition. Here are our top five tips on how to help prepare your child for a new sibling during your pregnancy.
1. Set Expectations Verbally and Visually
Communication is key to setting your child’s expectations about having a new sibling. As you start to “show,” start by explaining that your family will be having a baby and that the baby is growing in your belly. Provide a general time frame for when the baby will arrive. It is helpful to associate the due date with a big event in your child’s life, e.g., after Thanksgiving, around your birthday, at the beginning of the summer, because young children’s sense of time is not well developed. As things progress, continue to explain what will be happening (the baby will want to eat and sleep a lot, the baby will sleep here, mom and dad will be going to the hospital to have the baby, etc.)
Make the idea of a new baby more of a reality for your child by looking at pictures of when he/she was born, as young children have an easier time dealing with new situations if you relate it to their own experiences. I made a photo book for my daughter before our second child was born. It included my pregnancy, ultrasound pictures, our stay in the hospital, all the people who came to visit her, what she was like as a baby, and what she was like when she started getting bigger.
2. Include Your Child in Your Prenatal Care
(This video is of my daughter along for a prenatal visit as we expected our 2nd! )
Depending upon your child’s age, it can be fun and informative to go to some of your appointments. He/she will get to hear the baby’s heart beat, measure your belly and ask the doctor questions. If your hospital allows it, also consider taking your child on a tour of the hospital/center where you’ll have the baby. These seemingly little things will have a big impact on your child’s understanding of all of the changes as they happen.
3. Visit With or Babysit for a Baby
One of the best ways for your child to get prepared for what it will be like with a newborn at home is to invite one into your home. Your child can practice some of the things you have been discussing, like being gentle with the baby, and get a firsthand feel for what a baby is really like, e.g., such as diaper changes and feedings!
4. Instill Sibling Pride
Do activities, read books, or give your child a special gift that helps demonstrate the exciting role of being a big brother or sister. These items will provide a much-needed touchstone of pride when it comes to the new baby.
5. Do Not Focus or Blame the Pregnancy or the New Baby for Disruptions/Changes in the Older Child’s Life
Hope these tips are helpful! Sign up for our regular blog updates so you can stay tuned for big sibling tips for during the delivery and after you bring your new baby home.