Introducing Siblings to the New Baby
Excitement and anticipation fill a household when a new baby is on the way. From the day the new addition is announced to coming home from the hospital, there's much discussion and planning about welcoming the baby and making their arrival something special.
But parents need to keep in mind that while children already in the household will certainly look forward to having a new brother or sister, they may also be experiencing a degree of stress or worry over what a new arrival will mean to their place in the family.
Announcing the New Baby
- Depending on how old your children are, timing is important. For younger children, you might wait for mom to start showing the baby bump, so they have a tangible sign of change.
- Older children may be able to handle the news as soon as mom wants to reveal the information.
- Children will start to notice your emotional energy is going into your pregnancy. Be sure to set aside time for special shared activities with mom.
- Read books they enjoy, play games and set aside special times where you interact exclusively with them. This will help them understand they will still have an important place in your heart, lessening their feelings of competition with the new baby.
Heading to the Hospital for Delivery
- Make sure your children know beforehand what will happen when you leave to deliver. If not, they might be concerned about why mom is packing a bag for the hospital.
- Explain the process of delivery to them. Again, this is an age-appropriate topic, but for many children knowing what will happen is better than not knowing. Carefully consider each of your children and what they can handle.
Bringing New Baby Home
- Of course, this will be a special event for the whole family. Be sure to involve older children in any special plans you have for introducing the baby to their new home.
- Involve all children in routine chores surrounding the baby. They can help by handing you diapers during changing time, picking out outfits for the day or assisting with bath time.
- It’s common for children to start acting like a baby, to throw tantrums, or to act aggressively when there’s a new sibling. It is their way of communicating and figuring out their place. It is important to validate their feelings that change can be hard and that having a new kid in the house is hard for you, too! Try to catch them doing the behaviors you want to see more of and give them all the praise for being calm, having soft hands with baby, using their words, and following directions.
A new baby is a whole new person coming into your home. It wasn't your children's idea to have another baby, so don't just assume they'll be as excited as you at all times. They'll certainly love their new brother or sister, but you can help ease the transition with a few simple actions.