6 Things The Best Grandpas Do For New Big Siblings
If you’re lucky enough to have your own parents around for the birth of your second (or third or fourth) child, you already know how helpful it can be to have someone you totally love and trust caring for your older children. And you know that the best grandfathers do things for new big siblings to make them feel extra loved and cared for, so you can relax knowing your first baby is in great hands.
Adding a new baby to the family is joyful and exciting, but it can also come with a swirl of emotions. You might find yourself worried about your oldest, or wondering if you will ever be able to love a second child as much as you love your first (you will). Having your children’s grandparents around as you prepare for birth and welcome baby home can be super helpful, as long as you have some honest conversations about what you expect from them (for example, maybe you’d love if they let you answer questions about the new baby, or you’d really appreciate if they cook, but would rather they not do laundry).
Awesome grandpas will help your big kid make sense of this major life change, and they’ll let them feel their feelings (even the not-so-cute ones like jealousy or resentment). Read on for six things the best grandfathers can do for new big siblings that will help make everyone’s lives a little bit easier.
1. They help the big kid get excited and prepared
Grandpas are going to be excited about the arrival of the new baby, of course, but they will also show excitement over how cool it is to become a big brother or sister. They'll ask the big kid what they're excited to teach their new little sibling, and get them anticipating a fun future together. There are also tons of great books about becoming a big sibling that they can read to the child.
The best grandpas can also involve the big kid in some of the baby preparation. Whether that means holding the directions while putting together the crib, or helping to fold the infant's clothes, big siblings usually love to feel helpful.
2. They talk to the big sibling about things other than the baby
If the big kid loves making art or playing soccer, the best grandpas will be sure to engage them in conversations that aren't related to the baby at all. Just by talking about other aspects of a kids' life, grandparents can reassure a bigger kid that their whole world is not going to change just because they're getting a sibling.
"[It] can make jealousy worse if the older child feels the only way he is going to get some attention is by being nice to the baby or playing the big brother or sister — when they don’t really feel that way. They want to be recognized for who they were before the baby arrived," per Today's Parent.
3. They take cues from the parents
The best grandpas will leave it up to the child's parents to tell the kiddo that they're getting a new sibling, of course, but they'll also defer to parents to answer any tough questions like, you know, how babies are made. Excellent grandparents are there to make everyone's life a little easier during this transition, which may mean bringing the big kid to the hospital to meet their brother or sister, or taking the kiddo on a special one-on-one outing (like going to a movie or a playground) to give the parents some much-needed rest. It can also be helpful for grandparents to ask if they can run some errands or do a load of laundry, giving the parents time to bond with both their kids without the stress of chores.
4. They don't feel rivalry with their grandchild's other grandparents
It's normal for kids to go through a regression during times of change and this can definitely happen when they're getting a new family member. This may mean they start to favor one parent over the other, or one grandparent. If the grandchild seems to start favoring their other grandpa, of course it may sting a bit, but the best grandpas won't take this personally, and will understand that a child's "favorite" ebbs and flows over time.
"There's no such thing as too much love, after all, and a close relationship with one set of grandparents doesn't detract from your importance unless you let it," per Baby Center.
5. They tell the story of when the big kid was born
If a child shows interest in the new baby's arrival, they may also be curious to learn more about their own birth. One of grandpa's jobs can be to look at pictures from when the big sibling was born, and tell the child (appropriate) details they may not have heard before, like what day of the week they were born, what the weather was like, and how everyone was so, so excited. If the big kid still seems interested, they may have fun predicting what day the new baby will come, whether it will be sunny or rainy, and maybe even what their name will be.
6. They bring gifts for the baby & the big kid
It's natural to want to bring heaps of gifts for the new baby (honestly how cute are newborn's clothes?), but the best grandpas definitely will not forget to bring a gift or two for the big bro or sis. While a big sibling necklace or shirt is undeniably cute, it's also nice to get the big sibling something totally unrelated to the baby. The best grandparents will also make sure that this gift isn't going to make parents' lives harder, so they'll skip the toy that needs to be put together, or the game that requires adult supervision, and they'll stick with something the kiddo can play with on their own (ideally that doesn't make a ton of noise that may wake the baby).