Preparing Siblings for a New Baby

boy with babyWhile you are busy trying to figure out what color room to paint, picking out the best crib, and preparing for the “big day,” you suddenly remember that you have another child at home that you have to help get ready for the arrival of the new baby.

Suddenly, you panic. You might, think, “How am I going to tell him/her? What am I going to say?”

Relax.  Being the older sibling can be amazing… you just need the right tools!

12 Tips To Help Prepare Siblings For A New Baby:

  1. One of the best ways to help a soon-to-be older sibling is to read books with them about being a big brother or sister. The visuals will help them to understand what to expect.
  2. Remind them what it’s like to be the new baby. Start off by showing the soon-to-be older sibling a picture of him in your tummy, immediately after he is born, taking his first bottle, etc.
  3. Be sure to let your little one lead the discussion. Encourage her to ask questions.
  4. Create a “job” schedule that they can do to help you with the baby (e.g. helping get the diapers when you need it, getting the bottle when the baby is crying). This will make them feel as if they are a part of the whole experience. Dolls and other “life-like” items can be used.
  5. Check out local classes at your nearby hospital. They often hold classes on preparing for a new baby and will have special classes for the brother or sister. They help your child understand what life is going to be like with a new baby, and your child will also develop appropriate social skills with other children their age.
  6. Before your new baby is born, ask another family member to help your child find a “big brother or big sister present.” Ideally, the present will be something meaningful to the older sibling (e.g. a shirt, blanket or stuffed animal).
  7. Have the older sibling come visit you and the new baby as soon as possible. On that day, they can give the new baby the present.
  8. Once the baby is home, talk to your child about how things are going to be different (more time is needed with the new baby, etc.).
  9. Explain that at the beginning, the baby is going to be sleeping a lot, and when the baby is awake, he/she will need “our” (be sure to say “our”) help!
  10. This is also a great time to go over the job chart.
  11. Schedule certain times of the day that you can have “Mommy and Big Bro or Big Sist” time.
  12. Involve your older child as much as possible!

“Uh oh…… now I have two screaming children! What do I do?”

This is normal. The older sibling may act out or tantrum more than they had before. They may start to cry, engage in attention-seeking behaviors and even may start talking like a baby.

Here are a few tips on how to reduce the problem behaviors:

  1. Redirect your child by having them go get something for the baby.
  2. Remind them that the new baby needs a “big brother or big sister” and “big brothers or big sisters don’t cry.”
  3. If redirecting doesn’t work, ignore these negative behaviors. Once they are calm, explain to them that they can’t act that way and expect to get your attention. Show them the job chart and point out the times that they have alone with you.
  4. Try to facilitate shared play with both children.

This is a very exciting time for your entire family. Using the above tips can definitely make this transition go smoother!

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