Let’s Talk Preparation
Preparation starts prior to the birth of the new baby – Every older child is different. Parents should understand the knowledge level of the sibling. Older siblings – over the age of 4 – will have a better understanding of time references while younger siblings – under the age of 4- may not understand time references such as “you will have a baby sister or brother in 6 months.” Using words such as “soon” or “not much longer” will be better for younger siblings. Older siblings will better understand “a few more weeks or months.”
Some Helpful Tips
- Start by looking through pictures of the older child when they were a baby to help them understand that they will have a new sibling about the same size they were when they were born.
- Read through books about being an older sibling – there are many great books by excellent authors that help prepare children for the responsibility of being an older sibling
- Make it an exciting time for the older sibling – talk about how much the older child will be a helper and that they will be the best older sibling ever
- Help them understand they will still be loved – often, older children may feel that they will be pushed aside when a new sibling comes into the home. Taking time to have special mom/dad days with the older child, special reading time, and one-on-one time with that child after baby comes home will help them feel secure.
- Prepare them for when you deliver- talk to the older child about what to expect when you go into labor. Whether the older child will stay with friends, grandparents, or stay home with you for a home birth, tell them about their special bag, that is just like yours, they will take with them for their stay.
- Introduce them to others with infants or newborns – having your child spend time with other infants can help them to understand about the baby growing in mom’s belly and also allow you to observe their behavior towards other infants.
The key is to take time to prepare your child for life with a newborn. Giving the child some responsibility, depending on age, such as helping put away the newborn’s clothes, arranging diapers, and many other things can help prepare your child to be the older sibling. If you have more concerns about your child’s behavior, always reach out to your pediatrician for specific ideas related to your child.
-Authored by Bryana Hinck, NP at Thrive Pediatrics