*Preparing Your Child for a New Sibling is a guest post. If you are interested in having your writing hosted on A Modern Mom’s Life, please visit my Guest Posting page.*
When you bring home a new baby, the impacts on your family are significant. If you have an older child, particularly one who is maybe too young to fully understand, the impact can be dramatic.
Preparing your older child for a new sibling can go a long way to making your home more harmonious.
Explain the Situation
Even if your older child is fairly young, you should start to explain to them early on that a new baby will come home. Let your child know what it’s like having a new baby. For example, the baby won’t be able to play immediately. The baby will primarily eat, sleep, and cry.
If you’re planning to rearrange rooms after the baby comes home, do so beforehand. This will help your older child get used to this earlier on.
Start putting out some of the baby items, like their crib, swing, and other gear so that your child can learn a bit more about what to expect.
Plan a Hospital Visit
When your new baby comes, have someone in your family or a friend bring your child to the birth center or hospital. Gradually get your older child comfortable with the new baby. For example, maybe you let your child hold the baby for a few minutes at the hospital.
When a child is younger than two, it will be difficult for them to understand the idea of having a new sibling. A good way to help them is with picture books about families and new babies. This will bring to life a bit of what to expect.
Two to Four:
For children between the ages of two to four, the biggest issue of bringing home a new baby can be jealousy. Young children are very attached to their parents.
Along with explaining to your child what to expect, make sure you’re spending a lot of time with your older child. You don’t want an older sibling to feel like they’re “losing” their parent to a new sibling.
Spend time reading books, and you can give your child a doll so they can learn what it’s like to “care” for a baby.
School aged and older:
School-aged children might also feel jealous about a new sibling. Talk with your older child about what it requires to take care of a newborn. You can make them feel comforted by telling them some of the benefits of being an older child. You might also give your older child a sense of responsibility and ask them to help you take care of the baby.
No matter your child’s age, you should emphasize spending individual time with them because it is a big adjustment.
If your child begins to act out upon the arrival of the baby, it’s completely normal. They are likely trying to get your attention.
The best thing you can do is to ignore bad behavior and praise good behavior. You want your child to seek out positive ways to get your attention. You can talk and take time listening and make sure you check in regularly and ask your child what they’re feeling.
Related: Why Emotional Intelligence is Important for Children
It’s also not uncommon for a child to regress when a new sibling arrives. They might want to drink from a bottle, or they could start having accidents when they’re already potty trained. If this happens, show assurance and unconditional love.
Have you faced this situation as you’ve introduced a new baby into your family? If so, let us know how you and your older child handled the transition below. We’d love to hear from you and exchanging tips is always welcome!
About the Author:
Rae Steinback is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing (of course).