Positive Relationships: Baby bags - A new arrival

Annette Rawstrone
Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Children enjoy an innovative resource thought up by nursery staff, says Annette Rawstrone.

Nursery staff have developed a novel idea for preparing children in their care for the arrival of a sibling - 'baby bags'. The bags contain a doll, baby clothing, blanket, nappies and wipes, a feeding bottle, bowl and spoon, bib, cuddly toy and teething rattle, along with support information for parents.

The scheme is such a success at Grena Road Day Nursery in Richmond, Surrey, that it has been shared with the other nurseries in the Casterbridge Care and Education nursery group. Nursery manager Valerie Peters encouraged the initiative, which was developed by support manager Genna Vango. Ms Vango explains, 'We had a number of children whose mothers were all expecting at the same time and the parents wanted advice on how to introduce the idea that they were going to have a brother or sister. For many children this can be a difficult transition. They are going from being the only person in their parents' lives to having someone else vying for attention.

'We wanted the children to get used to the idea of having a sibling before they actually arrived and introduced the baby bags in an attempt to make it a positive experience, rather than something to be scared of. The child can feel more in control and less frustrated or scared.'

IN PREPARATION

Staff aim to include items in the bags that are as realistic as possible, such as real nappies and clothing rather than toy ones, to help children associate them with real life. The children are encouraged to take the bags home and play with them alongside their parents - helping to dress, feed and wash the doll, talk to it and give it affection. They can be shown how to hold a baby, taking care to support the head and touch them gently. Many children enjoy naming the doll.

There is no set time when the bags are given. Staff are guided by the parents and the individual child's understanding and maturity. Information for parents includes a guide explaining the importance of preparing a child for the arrival of a new sibling and advice on how to involve them once the baby has arrived so they do not feel left out. There's also a pamphlet including tips and comments from parents on how they dealt with different situations and contact details for support groups.

'We want to remind parents they are not alone, because it can be a hard transition for them too. We hope that, through the introduction of the baby bags, we can have a consistent approach at home and nursery and reassure parents that we will continue to be here for them too,' explains Ms Vango.

'The bags have been well received. One child in particular was unhappy at the prospect of the baby, but we introduced the bag and he became attached to the doll, taking it everywhere. This helped the anticipated arrival to become a positive experience and he was very proud when the baby did arrive.'

TIPS FOR PARENTS

  • - Talk to your child about the expected baby - let them feel it kick and talk to the bump
  • - Discuss with your child about when they were born and look at baby photos together
  • - If you plan to move your child to a new bed or make any other major changes, such as toilet training or starting nursery, try to do so well before the baby arrives
  • - Involve the child in preparing for the baby's arrival, such as helping to pick clothes and even asking for their opinions on names
  • - Read stories about siblings
  • - Buy a small present to give to your child from the new baby and encourage friends and relatives to pay attention to the older child when they visit the new arrival
  • - When the baby has been born, encourage the big brother or sister to help with small tasks, such as collecting items for nappy changes, so that they feel involved
  • - If possible, set aside special one-on-one time with your older child, such as when the baby is sleeping

SUGGESTED CHILDREN'S BOOKS

  • - Waiting for Baby by Rachel Fuller (£3.99, Child's Play International)
  • - Mummy, Mummy, What's in Your Tummy? by Sarah Simpson-Enock (£6.99, Francis Lincoln)
  • - There's a House Inside My Mummy by Giles Andreae and Vanessa Cabban (£5.99, Orchard Books)
  • - My New Baby by Rachel Fuller (£3.99, Child's Play International)
  • - My Sister is an Alien by Rachel Bright (£6.99, Puffin)
  • - Share! by Anthea Simmons and Georgie Birkett (£10.99, Andersen Press).

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