* Preparing Older Children for the Birth of a Sibling

By Jordan Beach, MSW, Courier & Press, April 25, 2017 –

Having a new baby is a very exciting time. There is so much to be happy about.

Since there is usually a lot to be done before baby arrives, preparing for the newest member of the family can be very consuming.

When you have your first child it is possible to allow the new family member to take up all of your time and energy.  But when there are already children in the home, it’s important to get older siblings ready for the arrival of their new baby brother or sister.

Unfortunately, children are not usually as excited about a new baby as the rest of the family.  They understand at an early age they are going to have to share things they’ve never shared before.

One of the biggest changes they are going to face is sharing the attention of their parents.  There are plenty of things that you, as parents, can do to help make the arrival of the new baby exciting for everyone and help older children mentally and emotionally prepare for the changes occurring in their family.

During the pregnancy, it is important to discuss the new baby with older siblings.  Talk about when the new baby will arrive.  Depending on their age, you could tell them the month the baby is due or talk about the season the baby is going to be born. Help your child understand the amount of time it will take before baby comes.

Other activities that will encourage your child’s relationship with their future brother or sister include reading books about siblings, visiting friends who have infants, including them in prenatal appointments and encouraging them to help you think of baby names.  Many hospitals also provide sibling birth classes to help the older child prepare for the new arrival.

Most of the changes in your family will occur after the baby arrives.  It is great to talk to your child about the arrival of the new baby, but there is no way to really prepare them for the amount of time a new baby takes.

If possible, maintain a normal routine with your older child.  If your son or daughter attends a childcare center or school, continue sending them as normal.  This will help maintain their routine and also make your transition back to work easier when the time comes.

After baby arrives, set aside some special time each day for the older sibling to spend with mom and dad.  This might be bath time or reading a book right before bedtime.  It doesn’t really matter how you spend the time; it is just really important to give them at least 10 minutes of your undivided attention every day.

This would be a great time to talk to children about how they like being an older sibling to get a better understanding of how they are adjusting.  It is also important for them to receive this individualized time with both parents.

Another way to help your older child adjust is to allow them to help with the new baby.  They can help by getting diapers or other things you need for the baby, playing with the baby (appropriately), singing songs and telling stories.

There is no doubt your family is about to change with a new baby on the way, but by taking some of these simple steps you can make the transition as seamless as possible for your older children.