By Daddy Nickell
Are you a parent to two or three children? Every child that comes into your family will be blessed with a completely different environment based simply on the number of older siblings they are going to have. The older siblings from 3 years to 23 years old want to help and share the love of the family that they have experienced with the new family baby. It gives them a sense of pride and security – and will remind them that they’re still just as special to you as they ever were. I’ve compiled a list of the top three successful ways in which older kids can help with babies.
Feeding: Depending on how old your “older” children are and whether or not you’ve chosen to breastfeed you may have to wait to allow your kids to help with feedings. If you’re using formula you can have your older child mix the formula with the water or even hold the bottle while baby eats (with your supervision, of course)! As your baby begins to grow allow the older child to pick out blended baby food and special snacks that he thinks baby will like. He’ll be excited when Baby loves sweet potatoes and laugh when Baby makes a sour face over mashed peas, too! Make sure your older children know that Baby cannot eat what your older children eat and not to feed Baby anything without asking you first.
Playing: You’d be surprised by how much older kids enjoy playing with the baby. And when I say “playing with the baby” I mean laying on a blanket enjoying baby safe toys together. It can be an extremely joyful and positive experience to watch your children play, and your kids will be bonding all the while. Even better than playing, my toddler boys enjoy reading to my newest arrival. Of course they cannot fully read yet, but they show my baby pictures and make up stories, too. Baby Tessa seems to enjoy listening to their chatter and she often smiles at them, too. It’s important to supervise and to discuss how delicate Baby is prior to allowing your older kids to begin playing and sharing time together with your new arrival.
Household Duties: It’s great to have help with household duties and chores; it instills a sense of responsibility in individuals, too. Although the older kids won’t be specifically helping with baby during these activities you can share with them that their actions are allowing for more family time together, so it is in turn helping baby. My boys often “help” fold Baby’s tiny clothes, rinse out bottles and pick up unsafe toys. Working together to accomplish household duties also gives my older kids some alone time just with me, which is always important for a growing family.
With seven kids of my own I know it can be difficult to bring a new baby home and find safe ways in which your older children can help. I hope these suggestions will work for you as they’ve worked for me throughout the years.
Robert Nickell, aka Daddy Nickell, father of 7, offers his “5 cents” worth of advice to expectant and new parents. Daddy Nickell is the founder of Daddyscrubs.com, delivery room duds and daddy gear for dads, and the Daddyscrubs.com blog where he covers topics about parenting and the latest baby and kids gear, all from a Dad’s perspective.