Preparing your children for a new sibling
Updated: Jul 11
Congratulations on adding a new bundle of joy to your family!
Sharing the news
You might be thinking, “Oh boy! How are we going to share the exciting news to our kid(s)? Well it doesn’t have to be anything fancy unless you want it to! Children under 5 years of age still have trouble understanding time, so sharing that the due date as “around Thanksgiving” or “when it gets cold outside” could help them understand better. Some children may have a lot of questions for you such as “where is the baby?” or if it’s a boy or girl; help explain in a way they will grasp like “in my belly” or “Mommy and Daddy haven’t found out yet, but we can’t wait to share with you when we do!”. Reading books about becoming an older brother or sister is a great way to start exposing them to the idea of a new baby
Enlisting their help
Getting promoted to big sibling can be challenging, but what better way to learn about being an older sibling than having them help out! Whether that is going and buying diapers, a few new toys, or even helping set up the nursery space if they are a little older. Asking and accepting the help of an older sibling will help them feel valued and not forgotten. Remember this will be a drastic life change for them, therefore it is important to include them in the process. After baby is born, discuss with your partner on how to share the duties of multiple kids. Who will do what? Maybe your older child wants to help as well. While it's not the most efficient to have a toddler “help” with laundry, it will help feel like an integral part of the family.
A great way to enlist their help is exposing them to a babydoll and having them practice helping with all things baby. Diaper changes, feeding a bottle, reading and playing with baby are all ideas to help ease the transition. Going on walks with the babydoll in a stroller could be a great activity to do as some last memories before their younger sibling arrives.
Limit big changes
Are you thinking about potty training, moving to a toddler bed or a big kid bed? It will be best to hold off on any of those bigger milestones before baby is born. Your older child could feel displaced and confused. Having both your newborn and toddler transition to new beds/cribs at the same time could be used as a bonding time. “Baby is getting big enough that they are ready for their new bed just like you. When you get your new big bed, baby will start using the crib.” Transitioning at the same time will allow your older child to not feel as if baby kicked them out of their bed all while getting excited that they too are getting a new and bigger bed!
Expect road bumps
Trust us, adding another baby to the mix is by no means picture perfect! Especially if your children are younger. As your belly grows and it gets harder to bend down or carry them, expect them to be upset about that. It is perfectly normal and okay for them to have big feelings about this. The best advice we can give you is to listen to their concerns, support them through their feelings and not make them feel bad or guilty for being frustrated. Regressions can happen after baby is born; when they see their younger sibling crying to get what they want this could potentially bleed into your toddler or older childrens’ behavior. Continue to support and explain what is happening. The more you talk about it and show them it’s okay to be frustrated, the more they will start to understand and learn how to cope with their feelings.
Bonding time after birth
Balancing postpartum recovery, learning your newborn and having older children is not for the faint of heart. Mom and baby will need some quiet downtime right after birth therefore, if your family can help, send your older child(ren) to their grandparents to spend quality time with them. Set a time or two throughout the day when you can focus on just your older child. Maybe dad can take over for you for a nap and a feeding while you spend quality time with your first born. Always remember that you are a team, communicate your needs!