Helping Siblings Love Your New Baby

little girl peeks at pregnant bellyAll of the changes that occur when a new baby is added may bring many challenges, especially if there are older children in the family. If not well-prepared for the new “normal,” your older children may see the new baby as a big interference in their lives, rather than a gift that you are giving to your family. Here are a few ways that you can prepare your older children to love your new baby.

Because becoming an older sibling is probably one of the most challenging things children learn to do, you first need to put yourself in your children’s shoes. You need to tell your children about the baby that is coming before you tell your other relatives and friends; this is news that should come from you, rather than a well-meaning relative or friend. If there are any goals or milestones you’d like your older children to reach before the baby arrives, such as weaning, toilet training, or starting preschool, make sure this happens well before your baby will arrive, so that the older children will feel a sense of mastery, rather than a sense of being replaced. Be realistic with them, so that they know that in the early days you will be tired and the baby will keep you very busy. They should also know that the baby will not be a playmate, at least not at first; the baby will mostly sleep, eat, need diaper changes, and cry.

Talk to your children about what it was like in the house when they were the new babies and share pictures and birth stories. Tell them about how excited everyone was about holding them and how they were loved so much. You should find out about sibling classes and tours of the planned birth place. You can often take your children with you to prenatal visits and let them meet your doctor or midwife, and listen to the baby’s heartbeat. At home, you can let them practice with a doll and show them how to support the head and touch the “baby” gently. Let them talk about their feelings about having a new baby in the house.

Let them participate in the preparations for the baby in whatever way they wish, from selecting the baby’s “going home” outfit to actually being present at the birth. Having older siblings present at a birth has eased the transition for many families, but you will be the best judge of whether that is right for your children. If you do choose to have your older children present, make sure you prepare them for the sights, smells, and sounds of labor and birth, and have a support person there specifically for the children, so that their needs will be met, and not distract you and your partner.

After the baby’s arrival, there’s more to consider. Encourage your relatives and friends to show attention to your older children and not just the baby. It’s also important to spend some individual time with each child every day. It need not be long periods of time, but your older children need to know you still love your first babies. You can let your children and the baby exchange gifts, and let the children help with the baby’s care, as long as you are nearby. Reassure your children of the benefits of being an older child.

Preparing your older children to be big brothers and big sisters is a gift, because this will provide the foundation for their future relationships. You’ll be glad you helped them learn to love your family’s new baby.

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Helping Siblings Love Your New Baby

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7 comments

  1. Stephanie says:

    I hope my son loves the baby as much as he does now after he/she is born

  2. Destiny says:

    My daughter is very spoiled and she will be 2yrs in march and im due in june. I am worried about how she will react to sharing the love. she has cousins her age and they fight for attention all the time. not to mention seeing her play with her baby dolls is almost enough to make a momma panic..lol… But I have been trying to ease her into the baby stuff. she will kiss my belly even tho im not showing much. the other day my mother asked her if she would share her cookie with the new baby and she tried to stuff it in my belly button…lol…so im hoping she will do fine.

  3. Jessica says:

    Awesome article with great advice! I cant wait to see how my babies will interact! I have an 18mo son & expecting a baby girl in early October. As of right now i try to tell him sister is in my belly and he understands that theres something going on in my belly because he will lift up my blouse to rub my belly or give his sister kisses and headbutts lol but im curious how he will react seeing her face to face. (:

  4. Bethany says:

    I’m excited to expand my family, but am nervous as well regarding how my son will react to the new baby. He will be almost 3 1/2 when the baby is born. He says that there is a baby is mommy’s tummy, but I’m not really sure if he understands what that means. He recently met his cousin who was 5 months old and gave her toys when she dropped them and helped me hold her bottle, so that gave me reassurance. We’re planning on doing the present exchange. This was all good advice.

  5. Hipmom808 says:

    Great article with awesome advice. I always ask my daughter to help me with her younger brother. Sometimes I ask her to get me a diaper or hold his bottle. She loves helping and now she does it on her own, if his pacifier pops out of his mouth and he cries, she runs over to him and puts it back in. Sometimes when he cries, she yells out "brother, Im coming" she tends to mimic me alot. Its so sweet the little things she does for him.

  6. Im very nervous of what to expect when it comes to #2 in the family. My son right now is 13 months old and i am expecting in the beginning of april. He’s very young and always has the spotlight on him. the only problem right now is his self attachment issues with me and daddy. The other day daddy was holding another kid that is my son’s age and he got very mad that he smacked the other kid. we disiplined him and put him on time out for smacking the other kid but i dont want that happening when it is time to bring the new baby home… anyone been thru this situation before and have any advice on what to do and how to break the attachment and jealousy problems?? they will only be about 18 months apart

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