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How to Help Your Child Prepare for a New Sibling

If you're reading this article it's likely because you are expecting a baby, Congratulations! The next few months will be spent preparing, and one of the most important jobs you will have is to prepare your older child for their new role becoming an older sibling!

Children will react to the news differently - some with joy, some with anger, and some with no response at all - which is absolutely normal.

Regardless of how ready your child may seem, after birth, there will be an adjustment period. So, let's learn some ways in which we can prepare our child to become an older sibling, before and after birth.

Letting them know

On average, it's recommended to tell your child as soon as the baby begins to show. However, as every pregnancy is different, and some pregnant women will experience severe morning sickness, you may wish to tell your child sooner, to help relieve any worries they have about their mother's health. If your family is adopting or using a surrogacy, in which the baby is not visibly obvious, it's still recommended to "start the conversation early" according to Dr. Silverman at the Child Mind Institute.

This is advised, so your child has as much time as possible to ask questions, mentally prepare, and get extra special alone time with each parent, to relieve any worries - After all, it's a big change, that will take time to get used to.

Firstly, Your child will likely be very inquisitive about where the baby has come from. Although that seems a very heavy question, a sweet and simple explanation should satisfy most children. Saying something simple like, "Babies are made when two adults love each other so much that they are able to create a baby".

If your child still has more questions, AMAZE Parents has posted a child-friendly video explaining the process, which can be found here,

If your child is struggling with the idea of a baby arriving and isn't happy about the news, we recommend that you try to find their old baby clothes, or show them photo albums of them as a baby, to help relieve any stresses or anxiety they have about the idea. You may find that talking about them as a baby may be fun, and then begin to talk about how much fun it would be to have another baby in the home.

Furthermore, if your child isn't excited about having a baby in the house ask your child for their advice on important details like the babies bedding, or their toys, or even ask them to pick out their future clothing.

Another tip would be to make sure the language you use to explain this news is key. Dr. Silverman recommends using terminology like "There's one more person to love", "There's somebody new to spend time with!", or "We'll have some much fun watching the baby do new things, and teaching them things" etc. Make sure you are emphasising the great things they will do together - not just the great things about the baby - to avoid jealousy.

How to prepare them for the birth

If your child is under 5, it's likely they will have trouble understanding time. So instead of saying "the baby will arrive in 6 months", try using a different form of measuring. Like, saying "the baby will arrive when the weather is very hot", or "the baby will arrive just before Christmas" for example.

Your child will likely associate the hospital with being poorly, however, it's important to assure them that going to the doctor is important for pregnant women, and is nothing to worry about. If your child is old enough, maybe see if they can accompany you on your visits to hear the baby's heartbeat, or show them the baby through an ultrasound. Just remember to not discuss the medical details, as that may worry them unnecessarily.

When you go to the hospital for the birth, simply explain to your child you will be back shortly with their new baby brother or sister. If appropriate, let your child and partner be the first family members to meet the baby, this way you can see your child's natural reaction in private. Verywell Family also recommends that

Lastly, After your new baby is born, your oldest child may suddenly start acting younger, in an attempt to seek the same attention as the baby is getting. This is completely normal, and it's your older child's way of making sure you are still aware that they need you. To try to avoid this, we recommend setting aside special one-on-one time with your eldest. Even something as simple as story time will help them feel appreciated and valued. If your child is older, giving them appropriate jobs and praising their positive behaviour may also help massively!


For more advice on this, we highly recommend checking out these other articles;

If you'd prefer a video, why not check out this LoveParenting video!

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