8 Tips to prepare your child for a sibling
Created by Ridhi Doomra Updated on Nov 23, 2020
While your husband and you are rejoicing about your another pregnancy – the big question looming in your minds would be how to prepare your elder child for a sibling? Forget about preparing, how you even make him or her understand the kind of changes that would take place once a baby arrives. Since it would be the change that would affect him or her the most, as he or she would get divided attention. Hence it is quite important to prepare your elder child in a positive way so that there are no traces of jealousy or unhealthy sibling rivalry. So getting back to the basics let's see how you can prepare your first born for a new baby.
How To Prepare Your Child For A Sibling?
How well your child receives the news of a new addition in the family would lot depend on his or her age. And if you think that it will be easy to prepare your 2-year-old as compared to a 4-year-old or even a 6-year-old then you are sadly mistaken. Since age is the crucial factor in helping you to decide how and when to prepare your first born for a sibling, I feel it should be given a due importance. Hence it is important to prepare your child in a positive manner and ensure him or her that with the arrival of a new baby would not change your feelings towards him or her. Here are few ways you can prepare your child for a sibling depending on first born.
Preparing A 2-Year-Old For A Sibling
A two-year-old is a child himself or herself and a thought of another baby in the family can prove to be little daunting for him or her. Hence it is advisable to delay the news of new arrival for as long as possible. But at the same time a 2-year-old also starts understanding few things hence be patient and tell him or her few things
- Baby will be dependent on momma: Make your first born understand that for few initial months the newborn baby will totally be dependent on momma and hence momma will be busy with the baby. But that doesn't mean that momma will stop caring about you and your needs. So do make some time for your elder one as well
- Newborn will not be an immediate playmate:Probably your first one starts thinking – ok the newborn baby will pop out and he or she will be a new playmate for him or her. You may like to explain it to him or her that the newborn baby will not be an immediate playmate so that they don't get excited and raise their hopes.Hopefully your two year old will understand and be more open to the idea of welcoming a new brother or sister in the family
Preparing Your 3 – 6 Years Old Child For A Baby
As the child is growing he or she is getting sensitised about his or her surroundings and understand things better. So if your first born is a 3–year-old then you may explain her about a newborn coming into the family as a sibling. However, children at this age are quite inquisitive in nature so be prepared with your answers.
- How did the baby get into your tummy: Give them as logical answer as you can give without getting into too many details. For a 3-year-old you can say something like a fairy saw that you are lonely longed for a brother or sister and hence she decides you to gift one – the story will hold true for a 4 year old too. By the age of five, children learn to be on their own hence to explain your 5-year-old about a newborn baby will not be that difficult and there will be questions there as well
- How will he or she come out: Yes, this will be the question that will pop from their mouths once you tell them about the new baby. So tell them that momma will need to go to a doctor for the baby to come out. Also, you can take them to your friend's place who had just delivered a baby so that your first born knows how the newborn will look like
- Momma will look up to you for help: If your first born is close to 6-years then you may prepare him or her by saying that mommy will need all the help she can get. Hence your first born will feel responsible for his or her new brother or sister
- Make space for your new sibling: A six-year-old will also understand that you and he need to make the space for the newborn. So if you are planning to make them both sleep in the same room ensure that the room is newborn friendly with unnecessary furniture moved out of the room
In any case, you need to gradually start preparing your elder child for the sibling rather than just present him or her with a fait accompli. Hence, I am sharing few that will help you make this big adjustment. So here are few things you need to do
- Quality time with dad: Cultivate the relationship between your older child and your partner throughout your pregnancy. When you're holding the new baby nonstop, you want your older child to be excited about spending time with dad, because naturally there will be some disconnection from you.
- Creating an active connection: Encourage your child's connection to the baby by reading books about childbirth together, taking him/her with you to the doctor to hear the baby's heartbeat, pondering potential baby names together (if you can let your older child "name" the baby with a name you all love, all the better) packing a bag together for the hospital that includes a photo of him/her. To choose the photo, go through your older child's baby pictures together and talk about what a wonderful baby s/he was, and what a wonderful boy/girls/he is now, which will highlight just how special they are to you.
- Be empathetic: Allow your child to express his/her full range of feelings throughout the pregnancy, birth, and afterwards, always responding with empathy. Naturally s/he will feel some jealousy about all the time and attention you and everyone else are giving to the new baby. Reassure him/her with your words and actions that you adore him/her just as much, and be sure to spend "special" time just with him/her each day.
- Be well prepared: Get any big changes out of the way well in advance of the birth, such as shifting rooms, weaning and toilet training. Your older child needs time and space to make these new routines into habits, without associating them with the baby.
- Be patient and loving:Keep your relationship with your older child as smooth and affectionate as possible, sidestepping power struggles and minimizing conflicts. S/he needs to feel secure in your love to handle the arrival of a new sibling with equanimity. Naturally s/he may be a little cranky and test you;, but do not worry: s/he is just trying to be sure you still love him/her.
- Ensure s/he is well taken care of:You'll need to decide and discuss with your older child who will be with him/her during the birth itself. This can be a difficult time for the older sibling. Be sure s/he has the opportunity for a "trial run" to spend the night with whoever will care for him/her.
- Strengthening that initial bond:You might consider having your older child be part of the birthing process. This will help the child to create and strengthen their bond with the new-born. If your child is not present at the birth, you will want him/her to visit you as quickly as possible after the baby is born, before other visitors. Emphasize your joy at seeing him/her, rather than your preoccupation with the new baby. Then let him/her sit and hold their new brother or sister, helping him/her to support the baby's head.
- Make him/her feel special:Privately ask family members to give "big brother or sister" presents instead of "new baby" presents. Your new baby won't mind wearing hand me downs, and it will help your older child feel like there is indeed something to celebrate. And be sure there's a special gift from the new baby to their older sibling!
Our children are our world! It is our responsibility as parents to ensure that siblings have a strong, lasting bond throughout their lives, starting from birth.
Did you find Ridhi's blog on preparing your child for their new siblinguseful? How did/do you help your older child create a strong bond with their new-born brother or sister? Do leave your comments…. We love hearing from you!