Preparing a Sibling for a New Baby
How you prepare your child depends upon their age:
1-3 years: Use dolls, puppets, play, and stories.
4-7 years: Use books, photos of them when they were a baby, answering questions they have about the baby and birth.
8 and up: Have a conversation about the baby, discuss feelings sibling has, and answer any questions they may have.
Tell the siblings about all the things they will be able to do with the baby, but don’t tell them they’ll be able to play with the baby, as they will be disappointed when the baby just sleeps and lays there.
You can also tell them how they can help take care of the baby, feed and change the baby, and help mommy and daddy with the baby. Explain that they have a new role as a big brother or sister.
Where Do Babies Come From?
Tell them the truth in a very straightforward way, but make sure your explanation is age appropriate. Make it as simple as possible, as young children won’t usually understand the specifics, and aren’t ready developmentally to hear them.
As mommy’s tummy grows bigger and the due date approaches, many children will ask how it’s going to get out. Be specific in letting them know the routine and general plan. How the baby will come out, where the hospital is, where the sibling will be during the birth and who will take care of him. There can be a lot of anxiety around the birth, so the more the child feels prepared, the calmer he/she will be.
Feelings of Resentment Toward the New Baby
Children may have feelings of anger, resentment and jealousy when the baby arrives. They may become uncooperative, demanding, or regress to baby behaviors – like wanting you to feed, hold and change them.
The sibling needs reassurance that they are loved, and to be able to express their feelings. It is important to give your child individual attention each day, even if just for 10 minutes. You can read to your child, play a game, or just cuddle. Try to do what they request (within reason). You can show them photos of them as a baby and tell them stories of what a wonderful and special time it was.
Allowing children to cry and express their feelings will help to release them and calm the child. Try to validate your child’s feelings. However, if the child tries to hurt the baby, they need to be removed from the baby’s presence. If the child is having a tantrum, it can be helpful to just hold the child and let them cry, but explain you can’t let them hurt the baby.