Nothing says there is another baby on the way like transitioning your bigger kid into their own bed and the timing is critical, says mothercraft nurse, Chris Minogue.
“The best rule of thumb for older kids in preparing for baby is to keep things simple and natural,” says Chris.
“Babies are good to stay in their bassinet until around six months old, and generally older children do better in a cot until they are at least 2.5 years old, so don’t rush it.”
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Don’t over talk baby’s arrival
When you’re excited, Chris says it’s easy to over talk the arrival of a new baby to your older child. But, despite our best intentions, sometimes that does more damage than good.
“It’s like talking to your kids about Santa coming at the end of the year, and it’s only March … this can make them anxious,” says Chris.
“By all means, talk about the baby coming, but don’t go on and on about it and say that everything will be wonderful, because it may not be.”
For this reason, Chris recommends drip-feeding the information and changes that lie ahead.
“When you are setting up the nursery, just say something simple like, ‘The baby will be in Mummy’s room for a while and you will sleep in your cot’,” says Chris.
“If they ask you questions about the baby, answer as simply as possible. And hold off (where possible) on making any visual changes within the two-week window of your due date.”
Limit any changes to routine
That means delay changing the car seats around, so the capsule goes behind the passenger, and the big seat is behind the driver. About two weeks before the due date, take a drive past the hospital and explain that is where you’ll be when the baby arrives.
Chris also advises preventing any change in routine six weeks before or six weeks after the baby comes.
“If you have time to think about how things will go, it’s always better to delay,” says Chris.
Tips for when baby does arrive
When baby does make their arrival, Chris advises to keep your older child’s routine and sense of familiarity as much as possible.
“Morning visits to the hospital are best for your older child, and also allows them to be home for the afternoon play, bath and bed routine. This will keep them grounded,” says Chris.
And wherever possible, “Make sure they are being looked after at their own house, not being shipped off to grandma’s one night and off to an aunt’s place the next.”
While this time of transition is big for everyone, Chris also says its important not to over think the arrival of a new baby.
“When your older child visits the hospital and you might be breastfeeding the baby, you say: ‘Mummy is feeding the baby right now and I will give you a hug in a minute.’ Because that is what will be happening at home, when you get back there,” says Chris.
“Keep it really simple and really natural and you will be surprised how well it goes.”
The next challenge of course, is getting the siblings used to each other!
But that’s a whole other post on its own.