When your first child was born, all of the attention was on your sweet newborn. With no other child competing for your affection, you were able to focus on your baby’s needs and learned tactics to maneuver through the challenges that came with being a new parent. Now, with another baby on the way, it’s time to prepare the family for the new baby. Your children are about to become older siblings to a new brother or sister, and this can be a big responsibility for them.
A new sibling can be very exciting for children. There’s the possibility of having a new playmate and being the “big kid” in the family. However, when the novelty of a new baby wears off, older siblings may become clingy to parents and jealous of the attention that their little sibling receives.
There’s no way to predict exactly how a child will act when there’s a new baby, so it’s recommended to prepare the older siblings as best as you can. Communicate openly and in age-appropriate ways so that your children are as ready as they can be for their roles as big brothers or sisters.
Read a Book Together
Reading is a great bonding activity for parents and children and can help communicate what it is like to be an older sibling. A book about a new baby brother or sister can help children begin to understand what they can expect with a new baby in the home. The story and lessons can also aid in getting the conversation started with your child. Some favorite books are:
- Olive Marshmallow by Katie Saunders
- What Brothers Do Best by Laura Numeroff
- Babies Don’t Eat Pizza by Dianne Danzig
- Little Frog’s Tadpole Trouble by Tatyana Feeney
- Benny and Beautiful Baby Delilah by Jean Van Leeuwen
Build the Connection Between Your Child and Baby
By involving your children in the preparation of the arrival of your new one (and allowing them to be “big helpers” as a big sister or big brother), they will feel more connected to their new sister or brother. Allow the kids to help paint the baby’s room, pick out clothes, or come to the doctor with you to hear the baby’s heartbeat. Play pretend with a baby doll so that your child can practice holding and interacting with a baby. One of the best ways to foster a personal connection with the baby is to have your child pick out a toy or other gift that your little one can give to the baby when he or she arrives. (Be sure to have a gift ready for the older sibling from the baby as well!)
Make All Big Changes Before Baby Arrives
There are going to be a lot of significant changes with the arrival of your new baby, so if there are any planned transitions coming up, do them now. If your child is ready to be potty-trained, weaned off a binky, or transitioned to a big-kid bed, it’s best to start the process before the baby arrives, for the comfort of your child (and your sanity).
Remind Your Child About His/Her Importance
Your child’s life is about to change and that can be scary and confusing. It’s important to remind children that by being who they are, they’re an extremely important part of the family. Praise your children for their unique, positive qualities and point out their contributions so that they can understand their value. Remark how each person in the family contributes something special and how important it is to have each person as a part of the family.
While you and your partner are preparing for the new baby, it’s important to remember that your older children’s lives are about to change as well. If your children are old enough to understand, speak to them about the reality of a new baby (crying, feeding, attention), and be sure to include the exciting parts of having a new sibling as well. The more you allow your children to be involved in preparing for the arrival of the new baby, and the more you communicate with them about the big changes, the more prepared they will be as incredible older brothers and sisters.
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