The introduction of new babies into the family unit can be difficult for both older and younger siblings, especially if they are the only child outside the multiple group. Introducing your children to their new siblings is something that needs to be handled sensitively and with an understanding that it might take them time to adjust to the change in their family. It’s important that you offer reassurance to your older children that they are loved and cared for, even though the babies are getting lots of attention and keeping you busy.
- Keep the babies away from the older children’s things. Keeping this boundary will help your older children feel that they still have their own things and their own place in the family.
- Where possible to stick to their usual routine. Children feel safe and secure when they have a routine so keeping this in place as much as possible will help them.
- Set aside a little time each day, which is always just for them, perhaps when the babies are asleep. Just sitting together to read a book, eating together and doing bath time will give you both the opportunity to spend some one to one time together. Try also to make time to listen to their news at the end of the school day, however manic the school run!
- Talk to your children about when they were babies and, if you can, show pictures of them as babies with you.
- Feeding times can make older children feel particularly left out, so try to make them feel special. Set aside time to play with your older children before the feed is due, and give them a snack to eat while you feed the babies – or give them a doll that they can ‘feed’ too.
- Older children could be given ‘special helper’ jobs to make them feel helpful and important in caring for the babies. They can also play with the babies and may start to enjoy their newfound role in the family. Try to provide activities that all the children can enjoy together e.g. playdough or dressing up.
- Avoid forcing siblings to be involved if they don’t want to. It needs to be remembered that they are children too and might just need some extra time to adjust to the new additions.
- Older siblings may feel like outsiders if the multiples are treated as a special unit, especially if they get to stay home when the older child has to go to school. It can help to give the older sibling/s opportunities to spend time with just one of the multiples group.
- Encourage older siblings to socialise with children of their own age and let them invite friends home.
- When you are out and people stop to ask you about your babies or multiples children, make a point of introducing the whole family.