When moms are pregnant with their second baby a popular concern is how the older sibling will react to the first meeting. Is the secret introducing toddler to new baby at the hospital? At home?
Obviously every child and family dynamic is different, but here are some important considerations when trying to weigh the pros and cons for helping older siblings cope with the new baby in the hospital:
– Age of older sibling
– How children might react in a medical setting
– Recent illness (or exposure to germs)
– Whether your child will have difficulty leaving you at the hospital
– Delivery method and length of hospital stay
So do most moms favor introducing toddler to new baby at the hospital? Honestly, it’s pretty split. Of course you know as ‘The Moms At Odds’, we have strong (and differing!) opinions on the subject.
Read on for why Rachel’s in favor of family hospital introductions and why Jo prefers to wait until she gets home.
We’ve got some great tips here for first child/second baby meetings, be sure to pin this now so you can easily reference it again later!
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General Tips for Introducing Toddler to New Baby
No matter where you decide your child will meet the second baby, here are some tips to consider when it comes time for the big introduction:
- Allow your child to guide the first interaction and conversation. Don’t launch into a speech about how you magically grew more love for this second baby, or how they will be such a great older brother/sister. Let your child have the time to process on their own and answer any questions they may have.
- Try to refrain from calling your second addition the “new baby”. Some children will take the fact that they are no longer the “baby” of the family very hard and feel like they are being replaced. Instead, introduce them by name or call them the new brother/sister.
- Be specific if they want to touch/hold them. You want to keep the interaction as positive as possible but refraining from telling your child they “can’t” do something. If your child asks to hold the baby, keep it positive and say, “Of course! Let me get a pillow to help you”. Or if your child reaches out to touch the new baby, mention that they really like their feet tickled
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- Consider a gift from the new baby. Some moms like to buy a small gift for the older sibling that’s “from the second baby”. This starts the relationship on a fun and positive note. You can even have the older child pick out a gift for their new sibling in return.
- Let them help (if they want). Some children respond well to keeping busy and having jobs. If this is the case, allow them to get the new diapers, help fold blankets, or other busy tasks they so feel involved.
- Don’t push it. You may have been dreaming about this moment, but let it be up to your child how and how long it goes. Don’t force them to pose for pictures or stay after they seem like they’ve had enough. They have a lifetime ahead of them to form a bond.
Rachel says “Bring the Older Sibling to the Hospital”
When my second was born, I was so excited to introduce my first son and to our second baby at the hospital.
In fact, he was our first visitor (with my parents) the day my second was born and I can’t imagine it any other way.
Make the Oldest Feel Included
All through my second pregnancy, my first son was so thrilled. He would tell anyone and everyone about his new baby that was coming. He was probably more excited than anyone else so it seems fitting that he should get to meet his brother first.
It should be noted that my first son was 3 years old, so he understood that the baby was here and he wanted to come visit.
I wanted my oldest to feel as included as possible. Not letting him come to the hospital would have broken his heart.
Honestly, I also missed him. I had only ever left him overnight a few times before that.
It just felt right to have the whole family together as soon as possible. Introducing toddler to new baby at the hospital was the right decision for our family.
Meet In A Neutral Space
I did not want to introduce our new baby at home, because I wanted their first meeting to be in a neutral spot.
My hope was that this would help my oldest get used to his brother, before feeling like the new baby invaded our home. I didn’t want the baby to be a stranger to him at home.
Tips to Make Introducing at Hospital Go Smoothly
- Keep the visit short and sweet – I actually prefer to apply this rule to all visitors in the hospital, but it is especially important with young kids. Consider you’re probably exhausted and uncomfortable then combine that with your toddlers attention span and it’s clear that a quick visit is perfect.
- Don’t hold the new baby – Try to avoid jealousy by focusing your attention and affection on your older child. Let someone else hold the new baby or place them in the bassinet so that you are available for hugs and snuggles.
Jo says, “Just Enjoy Time With Your Second Baby”
When my second was born, I purposefully did not invite my first child to the hospital to visit our newest arrival.
Instead, we waited to introduce the two of them when we got back home.
For our family, we felt this was the decision most fair to both my first and second baby.
Even the Second Baby Deserves Some Individual Attention
We had our entire lives to adjust to being a family of four. I just didn’t feel the need to rush introducing my second child to her older brother.
Our time alone with our newest addition in the hospital allowed my husband and I to bond and get to know our daughter. And our daughter deserved some time with our undivided attention too.
We held her for hours on end while she slept and didn’t care about the time. My husband and I gushed over how adorable she was. We got to know her little quirks that they start to demonstrate at such an early age.
It just felt right for us and for our daughter to delay introducing her to our toddler until after our hospital stay.
It Seemed Best for Our Toddler
My parents and grandmother watched our son when I went to the hospital to have our second child. And believe me when I say that my son (who was 19 months at the time) was having the time of his life at grandma’s house.
Grandparent time is awesome. He gets access to new toys, unlimited attention, and snacks mom doesn’t allow him to have. I guarantee he wasn’t missing me all that much.
Yanking him out of a comfortable environment to introduce them to his new sister didn’t sound all that appealing to me.
It also felt like seeing me would remind him that I wasn’t there and leaving me could upset him even more. Especially since the new baby was allowed to stay… and he wasn’t.
That wasn’t how I wanted to start their relationship.
Instead, we waited 2 days to introduce them. Our son was at home with my mom and grandmother. I walked in first to greet my son, my husband walked in second with our new baby, his new little sister.
It was such an emotional moment, I’ll admit I cried. I cried out of happiness that our family was complete. Also part out of sadness that I couldn’t dedicate 100% of my time to my son anymore and he had to share me. I cried at the interaction itself because my son was so loving and gentle with his new sister.
It felt like our son was welcoming the second baby home. He immediately started snuggling and showing her all of his toys.
The main reason we didn’t introduce our children at the hospital was because we felt it was best for them. But another consideration was the utter logistical nightmare.
To start, germs. I didn’t want my less-than-24-hours-old daughter exposed to everything my son had touched. You know what I caught my son playing with in the sandbox yesterday? A dead mouse. No thank you.
Second, there was timing. Finding a time when my son didn’t need to eat or nap that lined up with a time the baby was awake or didn’t need to be wheeled down the hall for blood work seemed like far too much work.
Finally, my mom wasn’t completely confident in her ability to secure my son in the car seat. Up until that point she had only taken him to the park or grocery store, both very short drives away. Our hospital was about 20 minutes away and required you to drive on two major highways.
So what do you think? Who do you agree with? Let us know in the comments below!