Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Preparing Your Child For A New Sibling

Preparing for the birth of another child is a joyful experience, but it also comes with concern about your older children's feelings.  Below are some helpful tips on making this transition easier for your family.

1.  Read books about pregnancy and new siblings.  Children enjoy seeing diagrams of what your developing baby might look like at the moment.

2.  Watch movies or TV shows together that feature families welcoming new babies.

3.  Go shopping together and let your children pick out clothes or other gifts for their brother or sister.

4.  Talk to them about the changes that will happen and listen to their concerns.

5.  Realize their feelings are normal.  As exciting as it is to have a new sibling, your child might experience a sense of loss or jealousy.  Losing so much parental attention is a big adjustment, but setting aside some time devoted to them can be a great help.

6.  Plan some activities you can do while feeding your baby.  Your child may feel frustrated being stuck at home a lot more.  Take the opportunity to read to them, sing their favorite song, do a simple puzzle, etc. 

7.  Take your child out on special dates with either parent.  You may not be able to give them the quantity time you want to, but quality time will show them you're making an effort not to forget them.

8.  Seek help from relatives and friends.  They might be able to take your child to the park while you take a much needed nap.

9.  Allow your child to help.  From fetching diapers to bigger events like your baby's first bath, they will appreciate being involved.

10.  Show your child pictures of when they were a baby and remind them how special they are to you. 

What we found the most helpful was including our kids to the point that the baby felt like their baby too.  We even allowed our son to attend the birth, but that of course is a very personal decision and not one I would push on anyone.  The first thing he said as he climbed into the bed was, "I love him."  He certainly did, but he also had some moments of frustration when I couldn't take him to the park within what he considered a reasonable amount of time because I was either feeding, changing, or bathing his brother.  If I told him we could go somewhere after the baby wakes up, he made sure the baby woke up, much to my dismay.

We even had a funny moment of sibling rivalry before the baby was born.  We had purchased a teething toy for him that our son insisted on opening.  I told him he couldn't because it was for his brother.  He responded by smacking my pregnant belly.  After a time-out, he returned to the living room, rubbed my tummy, and said, "Sorry baby." 

What are your thoughts on preparing children to be big brothers or sisters?

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