So you’ve been busy raising a child (or children) for some time and just found out you’re pregnant again. You wonder how your young child will take the news.
The truth is that older children who have welcomed siblings in the past are better prepared for a new baby to join the family. Those who experience the change for the first time are usually the ones who need more preparation.
What can you do to best prepare your young child for the new baby arriving in just a few months?
Here are 10 tips to prepare your child for a new sibling. Some of these ideas can even get your child excited about having a new member in the family:Read books.
There are many great books that talk about the experience of adding a new member to the family. Don’t just read the book, get into the story and ask your child questions or relate the story to what is going on your family. Here are a few books to consider:
- I Am a Big Sister! or I Am a Big Brother! by Caroline Jayne Church
- I’m a Big Brother by Joanna Cole
- You Were the First by Patricia MacLachlan
- God Gave Us Two by Lisa Tawn Bergren
- New Baby; by Mercer Mayer
- The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby by Stan Berenstain · Random House Children’s Book
Use people you know.
Tell your child about families he/she where there are siblings. Point out any recent new babies in your family or friends’ families and talk about the changes they experienced.
- Make construction paper strollers or infant car seats
- Draw the food the baby will eat their first year
- Color before- and after-baby family pictures and frame them
- Paint girl and boy themed pottery
Talk about your child as a baby.
Your child was at one point a new member of your family. Spend time showing pictures of them when they were newborns and how your family prepared for his /her arrival. Tell them about special moments you shared together and any cute stories you remember from them when they were infants. Bring out baby clothes, stuffed animals, anything you have to show as a memory of the child’s first year.
Buy a special baby gift together.
If age appropriate, have your child pick out a gift they can take to the hospital for their newborn baby brother or sister. Don’t make it an in and out trip. Talk about it before hand, make lists with them about possible choices and take time for them to find the special gift at the store.
Bake new-baby themed cookies with your child. This can be as simple as making regular cookies and decorating them with baby-inspired sprinkles or icing colors or as elaborate as getting baby themes cookie cutters and decoration kits. Find examples online or on magazines of nicely decorated cookies and use it as template to follow when you bake yours at home. Have fun preparing, baking and then decorating your goodies. Take pictures of your creations to show them once their brother or sister is born.
Make a fuss.
Your child will become a big brother/sister to their new sibling. Make a big deal about it. Tell them how they will be an example to their younger sibling. Talk about the things they will help with when the baby arrives and the important role of older brothers/sisters in families. Point these things out throughout the day. It will keep things positive as the change gets closer. Also take a moment to point out proper ways to touch, behave, and be around a small baby.
Ask for their opinion on baby items.
Show them pictures of the items you need and ask for your child’s opinion on colors or designs for bibs, sheets, pacifiers and similar items. Children like to share what they think and love the feeling of being able to make decisions. Make it a point to ask what they think and be extra interested in their answers. Ask why they liked a particular color or why they think a certain item will work better for the baby. In the end you will make the decision on what you end up buying but trying to include them in the process will make a difference for them.
There are plenty of big sister / big brother items out there. Point out how cool these items are: t-shirts, cups, stuffed animals, etc. Buy or make some of these items yourself. It does not have to be expensive. Your local discount store may have items for a dollar with the words written on them. To make your own, just buy basic items, then use paint or craft letters to add words to them. It’s simple to think big with your child!
Make THEM feel special.
Instead of being about the new baby, this is actually all about your small child who will become a sibling. Do something that focuses on how special he/she is. It can be anything from moving them to the “older” sibling room/bed, taking a special trip or planning an outing to their favorite place just to celebrate them. Whatever it is, make sure it is positive and a celebration of having your child in the family.
As you can see, there are many things you can do to prepare your child to welcome a new brother or sister. The main thing is to start talking about the change in advance and keeping things positive.
Finally, the key to this transition is to remember that all children like to feel and know THEY are special. A parent’s job is to help their current children feel loved for who they are before, and after, their new sibling arrives at the hospital.
Best wishes as you welcome baby to your family!