How to Welcome a New Sibling in the Family
The addition of a new child to the family can be an exciting and fun time. It can also be a challenging time for an older sibling. Parents may be wondering how to help their child adjust to not being the only child.
Tips to Prepare a Child for the New Sibling
Be realistic when you tell your child or children about the baby on the way. Let them know about both the fun and the time and attention baby will need. Here are some additional things to consider:
- Avoid telling an older sibling the new baby will be a playmate. While we hope that’ll be part of the kids’ future, most children won’t understand that idea until later.
- Don’t continually ask how your child is feeling about the baby. This may be uncomfortable; some children will feel like they should say something positive when they may be having other feelings.
- If you need to make any big transitions such as moving the older sibling to a different bed or room, do so well before the arrival of the new baby.
Let your older child be involved in the planning – let them pick out baby clothes and help decorate the nursery.
Make Sure Kids Know You’re Still There for Them
Make sure to talk to your children about who will care for them while you are in the hospital, and where they will stay. They may feel a little left out or worried. Other ideas to consider:
- Often children will regress in some behaviors such as toilet training or sucking their thumb. This is typical behavior and just means they need reassurance that they are just as important as before.
- Some jealousy is normal for older siblings. It is common for an older child to say things like “Take them back to the hospital,” or “I don’t like the baby.” Just remain calm and reassure the child that they are loved.
- Have the older child pick out a gift for the new baby and have one ready from the baby for the older sibling.
- Plan one-on-one time with each child.
- Have the older child use a doll so they can learn to feed, diaper and care for their baby doll also.
Adding a new family member to the household will come with a few bumps in the road. Remember that your child is adjusting to a new role in the house and it will take some time and understanding.
Avera Childbirth Educators and Certified Family Life Educators can offer additional help for growing families.
Patricia Bates is a Family Life Educator at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center.