How to prepare your child for a little sibling

siblings

Congratulation on expecting another baby. Going from one child to two is an adjustment for everyone in the family, especially the older sibling. Here are some tips to help prepare them for baby’s arrival and ease the transition for all.

  • Talk about the baby during pregnancy. Depending on the age of the expectant sibling it is important to start including the new baby in your conversations. If your first child is quite young, it is recommended to wait until closer to delivery since even a week can seem like eternity to a toddler.
  • Encourage your older child to talk, sing, or read to the baby when its in your belly as well as after it is born.
  • Involve your older child in preparing for baby. Have them help with folding baby clothes. Show them things that were theirs that their new baby will wear. Say things like ‘ Your new baby is so lucky to have a big brother/sister to share their clothes/toys with.’
  • Take your older child to a 3D ultrasound. This is a great way for them to visualize the baby that is coming.
  • Prepare them for who they will be with when you go into labour. Have some play dates and sleep overs before the big birthday. Some children can feel very alone if it is their first time away from both mom and dad.
  • Have them visit the hospital as soon as possible after the birth. This first meeting is very important. Let them hold the baby if they ask (with assistance if necessary). Make a big deal about them.  Keep visit short if necessary but allow them to come back if they want to.
  • Bring a special gift from baby to give the older sibling at the first meeting.
  • Prepare visitors on how to support your older child. Tell them to greet the older sibling first before the baby. Remember that before the new baby was born everyone was totally preoccupied with your first child and now if all the attention is on baby they will feel more jealousy. Also most guest bring a gift for baby but not the older child. Mention this to your visitors but you can also have a couple small gifts on hand that visitors can give your older child once and awhile.
  • Include big sibling in baby care. Ask them to hold things while you do diaper changes and other routine baby care.  Praise them as much as you can.
  • Find something you can do with older sibling during breast feeding. This tends to be a time that siblings will act up since they know you are busy. Read to them or sing and be creative.
  • Get your older sibling a baby doll or stuffed animal. Brothers and sisters really enjoy mimicking baby care with their own baby. You can give them the doll before baby is born and you can start showing them how to take care of ‘their baby’
  • Spend time with the older sibling one on one. It is important to spend time with them without the baby. Many families have mom take care of baby and dad takes care of the older one. This can cause some issues with the older sibling. Take turns with bath/bedtime if possible and take your older child out even if it’s just for a short visit to the park for example.
  • Be patient!!  Having another baby is a big deal and take time for everyone to adjust. Be patient with older siblings but also make sure to keep rules in place. If your older child acts up during feeding time, stop the feedings to deal with the behavior a couple of times. This will show the older sibling that the rules from before still apply.  Keep routines in place and try not to make big changes during this time.  Transition to big kid bed, potty train and wean your older child way in advance of new baby’s arrival.  Keep in mind that your older child may regress in some of these areas.  They will get back on track, just give them some time.