Disclosure :: this post is sponsored by Touro Infirmary.
It has been said that the greatest gift you can give your child is a sibling. Those of us with siblings will likely agree; countless childhood memories, shared experiences and lifelong friendships are “born” with siblings. But in the first moments of adjusting to shared attention, the arrival of a new brother or sister can be difficult for the older child.
While the news of a new baby is joyous, keep in mind that it will be a momentous change for big brother or sister. Thankfully, there are many ways parents can prepare to help ease the transition.
Preparing for new baby’s arrival:
- Depending on your child’s age, research how to best talk to him/her about the new baby
- Consider purchasing a big brother/big sister book, and read it often leading up to baby’s arrival
- Focus on the older child’s role, “You are getting a baby brother/sister”… “You are going to be such a great big brother/sister.”
- Follow your child’s lead regarding how much he wants to talk about it or be involved in preparations
- Let your child feel the baby kicking and wondering what he or she is doing “on the inside”
- Consider together what it will be like after the new baby arrives and how the older sibling can help
- Talk about what it was like when you were pregnant with the older child and consider looking at pictures together of your first pregnancy and the older child as a newborn baby
- Talk about what it will be like when mommy goes to the hospital and the first days after the baby comes home
- Spend time with a friend or family member who has a young baby so your child can experience what it is like to be around a baby.
- Arrange for family and friends to help with the older sibling; they will need special care and attention while mom is at the hospital and in the first days at home.
After the new baby arrives:
- Some people find it helpful to have the new baby give a small gift to the older sibling at the hospital; something special from the new baby just for big brother/sister.
- When big brother or sister meets the new baby for the first time, consider having someone else holding the baby so mom can first give attention to big brother/sister. They have likely been without mom for a day or two and will be seeking attention of their own.
- Spend time every day, even if it’s just a few minutes, alone with the older child. Let the older child choose the activity or suggest a quick outing to the park.
- Listen to your child’s feelings about the new baby and acknowledge them.
- Offer ways to express anger or frustration, and make sure the older child knows to never hurt the baby.
- If the older child wants to be babied, that’s ok. They were, after all, the first baby.
- Have a few big sibling gifts tucked away to give your child when people bring gifts for the baby.
- It may be helpful to draw attention to the older child when people visit the baby, making them the shared focus of attention.
- Give the older child their own space that doesn’t need to be shared, whether it’s a new play space in their room, or quiet book corner just for them.
- Let the older child help care for the baby. They can help with bath time, picking out clothes or reading a book to the baby.
- Talk about all of the good things that come along with being the older sibling.
- Discuss what the future will be like when the baby is older and they can play, laugh and grow together.
Touro’s Sibling Class can help!
Touro’s Sibling Class teaches children what to expect when a new baby enters the family. The free class is designed for children 4 years to 11 years of age.
Children will learn:
- What happens when mom goes to the hospital
- What to expect when the baby comes home
- Explore ways older siblings can cope with the new arrival
- Explore ways older siblings can help with the new baby
- Tour the Family Birthing Center
Click here for upcoming dates and class registration information.
About Cheryl Tschirn, RN, BSN
Cheryl Tschirn, RN, BSN is the Community Educator at The Family Birthing Center at Touro Infirmary.