When a new baby arrives older children can be forgotten, or expected to grow up a little quicker. I feel sorry for siblings of a premature baby as suddenly everyone’s focus is on the new arrival. They may feel left out or that they don’t want to talk about their own fears about what is happening.
There is plenty of support and advice out there and I hope this blog helps in pulling some of that useful information into one place. I only have the one child so I didn’t need to worry about other children being affected. I was aware of other families in the neonatal unit who did have other children though. Speaking to them and listening to people in groups I could see how hard they struggled. A recent study conducted by Leo’s showed that 54% of parents reported that their old child/children were affected by a sibling being in neonatal care.
Parents felt torn on how they should be dividing their time. They were missing out on what their older child or children are up to at home. The choices they were having to make were so tough! Do they make sure they are home when they wake up and take them to school or pick them up instead? Maybe they should miss teatime at home but be there for bedtime? What about the school play this week – are the grandparents a good substitute?
Then there was the guilt that their older had lashed out, acting completely out of character. Suddenly the questions change to: am I giving them enough of my time? Do I tell them off or let them get away with it this once? Am I doing enough to help them understand?
Here are some things that I have come across that might be useful
Fiona Hill from Rayleigh Book Nook specialises in sourcing books that help children understand the world around them. Her aim is to help alleviate some of their anxieties and stresses through the power of books. Here is one of her recommendations for children about to become a big brother or sister:
I love this book for kids about siblings. When a little boy feels that everyone thinks his baby brother is amazing. But eventually he realises that he is also super in his own way and he’s a super big brother.Fiona Hill, Rayleigh Book Nook
Sophie Marsh from Sophie’s Stories also wrote a great blog (click here to read) especially for Presents For Preemies a few months back. Sophie explains how play therapy works and the bespoke stories she writes to help the children. Click here to take a read.
There are quite a few Facebook groups that are just for parents of preemies too where you can post questions. The communities are friendly and people in the groups respond to posts quickly.
Noah’s Star is a charity in Birmingham that has volunteers providing siblings of a premature baby much needed support. They may not be able to support you directly if you live outside of Birmingham but their Facebook page still has lots of useful information on it. One example is a link to this in depth article published on The Psychologist