1. Inform your older child about your pregnancy early on, ensuring they hear it from you.
2. Address significant changes in your toddler’s life, like potty training, before the baby’s arrival.
3. Have open conversations about the baby’s arrival, setting realistic expectations.
4. Involve your older child in preparations, such as choosing the baby’s outfit or suggesting names.
Welcoming a new baby to the family can be tough for siblings. Rivalry usually begins right after the arrival of the second child, or often even before it. Most of the time, the older child acts out by becoming aggressive or by regressing and acting more like a baby (wanting a bottle, peeing their pants, etc.). That’s why it’s essential to prepare your older child for the arrival of their new sibling. Kids need to know what to expect to feel secure and they need time to adjust to changes.
Tips to prepare your child to receive their new sibling
There are some things you can do to make the adjustment process easier for everyone. Here are just a few tips:
- Tell your older child about your pregnancy when you tell your friends. They must hear this from you, and not someone else!
- If any (other) big changes are coming up in your toddler’s life, like moving to a new bed or bedroom, start toilet training, or starting preschool, plan to get through them before the baby arrives.
- Constantly talk to your little one about the baby’s arrival, giving them a realistic idea of what to expect. For example, let them know that the baby will take up a lot of your time and that the baby will not be able to do much at first!
- Sit down with your toddler and look at pictures of their birth and babyhood. Explain how excited you and everyone else were when they were born!
- If it’s possible, visit friends with a new baby so your little one can see what it is like to be around a newborn.
- Let your older child participate in the preparations for the new sibling as much as possible. For example, you can let them decide between two choices what their sibling’s first outfit will be. You can ask them for potential names for the baby or ask them to help you pack your hospital bag.
Reading about it!
Another thing that works –and if you’ve read my previous blog posts then you guessed it– is reading about it to your toddler.
Books are powerful tools that help children identify and comprehend new feelings and situations. They spark up conversations about their doubts, worries, and mixed feelings about the new baby. Plus, it’s a great way to spend one-on-one quality time cuddled up together!
There are lots of amazing children’s books about pregnancy, adoption, and a new sibling. For example, I’m a big sister! / I’m a big brother! by Johanna Cole. I love Cole’s way of telling this story through the eyes of an older sister or brother. The book talks about what to expect from a new baby and reminds older siblings that they are just as special.
Last piece of advice
Once your new baby arrives, remember that, although you wish you could, it’s not possible to split your time evenly between siblings, because new babies require so much attention. What you can do is set aside a special time for your older child. Try to spend at least 15 minutes of daily uninterrupted one-on-one time with them and let them choose how to spend it.
Remember that with all the changes the newborn can bring to the house, some older siblings might struggle while adjusting, try to encourage your kid to talk to you about their feelings! If they can’t express their feelings, this may disrupt the family interaction. So try to understand the actions and feelings behind those actions that your child may experience due to all these changes, and make sure they understand that their feelings are important.
Do you have any book suggestions of your own? Let us know in the comment section below!