Have a little one at home and another one on the way? You might be thinking, “No problem, I’ve done this before!” However, this time may be a little different. Through all of your doctor’s appointments, new room preparations, and pregnancy aches, you have a child who may be feeling any number of ways as she prepares for her new baby brother or sister. If there’s already more than one little one at home, one might expect that reactions to the third or fourth child will be the same as when your second one came. But beware…things change. Here is how to prep your child for a new sibling.
My primary piece of advice when preparing your child for a new sibling is to follow her lead. Some kids might have lots of questions and show great interest in talking about the new baby. Others might act as if you never even told them the news. Don’t worry, kids react to these changes in all different ways. Make yourself available to your son or daughter, while never forcing the topic.
With so much going on in your life right now, it can feel overwhelming to stay on top of all of this.
Below are some tips that parents have found helpful when preparing their child for a new sibling:
- Discuss changes that will occur when the newborn arrives, and start early! A newborn will bring many changes to the entire family, such as different responsibilities for all members of the household. If your child will have to make significant changes such as moving his/her bedroom, try to make this change long before the newborn arrives. This will help your little one not feel like they are being displaced by their new brother or sister. While sharing is expected among siblings, let your son/daughter know about things that will remain theirs and stay constant.
- Read books about welcoming new brothers and sisters. Your local librarian is a great resource for age-appropriate books about the arrival of a newborn and books are a great way to learn about life transitions. While reading a book on the topic may spark rich discussion, it also may not. Don’t be discouraged though; give your child time to let the changes sink in.
- Allow your son or daughter to be part of the planning and preparation for the newborn. Whether it’s setting up the baby’s room, looking at ultrasound pictures, or purchasing items for the nursery, having your son or daughter participate in the preparations, may help ease some of their anxiety.
- Expect some mixed feelings. Children’s emotions often seem all over the place. One minute they may be talking excitedly about their role as a big brother/sister and the next minute showing zero interest or even stating that they do not want to be an older sibling. People’s emotions are often mixed about life transitions/changes, so remember to let your child know that it’s normal to have some mixed feelings about the new addition to the family.
- Lastly, be prepared to provide some extra support to your son or daughter, possibly more so than he or she typically requires. Of course this depends on each parents individual schedule and what time/life permits. However, spending lots of family time together and focusing on this special time you have together before the new addition arrives is important. If your child seems anxious about the arrival of the new sibling, reassuring him or her of their relationship with you will be helpful. Maybe show them pictures from when they were a baby, so they see what it was like. While there may be lots of time and attention given to the newborn, let them know you’ll still be sure to make time for them.
If you have concerns about how your child is adjusting to a new baby in the family, click here to meet with a social worker.