If you’re getting ready to bring home a new baby, you may be wondering about the best way to tell your older child. Not to worry! These 8 tips will teach you how to prepare your child for a new sibling and create the best environment possible for your growing family.
When & How to Tell Your Child
Knowing how and when to tell your child that you’re expecting can be difficult. You want to give your child as much time as possible to get used to the idea that a new baby will be joining your family.
Your child, even if they’re younger, will be able to recognize the changes that are taking place. Your belly is getting bigger and you may be experiencing morning sickness. To help them avoid feeling anxious about these changes, it’s important to share what’s happening. The same with surrogacy or adoption – you’ll want to share what’s going on as early as possible.
For younger children, picture books about a new baby are a great way to introduce new words and concepts. If you have a name picked out, share it with them. Let them know that they will be their little brother or sister. They may not understand completely what is happening, but they will be able to feel your excitement.
Older children are sure to have a lot of questions. Remember to be positive whenever possible, but be honest with them about the changes that will take place. Help them feel confident by letting them know that you really appreciate them and the help they’re giving you and that they are already a great big brother or sister.
10 Great Books To Help You Prepare
Looking at books about a new baby can make the whole idea of a new sibling more fun. Check out these 10 books that help to prepare your child for a new sibling.
- The New Baby by Mercer Mayer
- Waiting for Baby by Rachel Fuller
- I am a Big Brother by Caroline Jayne Church
- You’re the Biggest by Lucy Tapper
- Big Sisters are the Best by Fran Manushkin
- The Baby is Here by Angela C. Santomero
- Baby Makes Five by Stan Berenstain
- I am a Big Sister by Joanna Cole
- Andre the Best Big Brother by Mikaela Wilson
- My New Baby by Rachel Fuller
4 Tips Before Baby Arrives
In the days and months before baby arrives, these 4 tips will help you prepare your child for a new sibling.
- Let them get involved – Let your child be part of the preparations. Whether it’s shopping for clothes and toys or helping to paint the nursery.
- Their own “baby” – Give your child a doll that they can practice holding and taking care of. Show them how to gently touch the baby, burp them, or change a diaper. Some practice will help them feel more excited and confident when their new sibling arrives.
- Prepare them for the hospital – It’s important to prepare your child for your stay in the hospital. Explain that you will be gone for a few days and let them know who will be there to take care of them. Let them help pack your hospital bag. If you’re able to have visitors once the baby arrives, have your older child come visit you in the hospital.
- Make important transitions – If your child is at the age where they’re making an important transition in their life, such as potty training or going from a crib to a bed, try and help them make the change before the new baby arrives. If that’s not possible, wait until after the baby has been home for a while.
4 Tips For When Baby Comes Home
You can avoid problem behaviors and keep your child feeling positive about the experience with these 4 tips.
- Make time – Spending some extra time with your older child can help them feel special and less jealous of their new sibling. Start before baby arrives and continue to make time with them after baby comes. Having time alone with each parent, whether it’s reading a story or taking a walk together, will help give them the time they need and let them know you will always be there for them.
- Give them a job – Depending on the age of your child, giving them a job to do once baby arrives will make them feel special. Younger children can hold the towel during bathtime or bring the baby a toy, while older children can help you prepare a bottle or change a diaper.
- Keep your routine – Yes, things look a little different now than they did before, but sticking to your normal daily routine as much as possible will help to avoid potential problems.
- Be aware – Your older child may regress and start acting younger – refusing to take naps, having accidents even though they are potty trained, or asking for a bottle when they’re using a big-kid cup. Know that this behavior is just temporary, and your child is simply looking for the attention they’re missing since the new baby arrived. You can help by encouraging and praising more mature behaviors.
With some thoughtful preparation, and finding ways to include them in the process, you can help prepare your child for a new sibling and encourage a healthy sibling bond from the start.