Preparing Your Child for a New Sibling

While bringing home a new baby is one of life’s happiest and most exciting times, it is important to remember that your new bundle of joy is going to be a huge change for your older child. Suddenly, their playroom is being filled with baby swings, play gyms, and bouncers. When you tell your older child they are about to be a big brother or big sister, you might be met with several mixed emotions: confusion, happiness, anger, excitement, anxiety, and maybe even disinterest. Eventually, their baby sibling will become their new normal, but this will be a huge time of transition for your child and it’s import to be sensitive to their concerns and countless questions.

Timing is everything.
The impending arrival of a new sibling is not something to casually announce at the breakfast table before school. You will want to pick a time where you are able to sit down with your child and have a genuine conversation with them about what they can expect for the coming months.

Use books.
It might be difficult for a young child to comprehend what a new baby in their family means for them. Incorporating books into storytime about being a big brother or big sister will help your child understand that their family is growing. Pictures are worth 1,000 words to toddlers and will help them understand by explaining things in their language.

Comfort your child and let them be your “big helper.”
It’s important to be comforting and honest with your child when explaining how a new baby is going to change their normal routine. While you should reassure them that you will still love them just as much as always, explaining how much time a new baby takes up in the beginning will help them begin to prepare for the changes that lie ahead.

Every child appreciates feeling valued and will likely embrace their new “big helper” role. Remember, your older child is going through a huge life change and as much as you try to prepare them, they won’t be able to fully understand what being a big brother or big sister really means until baby arrives. New babies take up a lot of time and it is important for your child to feel included. Tasks such as getting a bottle ready, gathering baby supplies, and helping during bath time can help your older child establish a bond with their little sibling because they will begin to experience a new feeling of responsibility and protectiveness.

Consider letting your child pick out a “sibling gift.”
Before your new bundle of joy arrives, consider taking your child to the toy store to let them pick out a gift, or asking them to draw a special picture for their new sibling. You may also want to consider picking out a special big brother or big sister toy “from the baby” to give your child the day their new sibling is born. During such a huge transition, gifts can help lighten the mood and make it seem like a new sibling will be something fun.

Bringing home a new baby is a huge change for the entire family, including your older children. It’s important to take steps to help prepare them for their new role and address all of their concerns before and after your new baby arrives home.