Introducing Siblings to Your New Baby
Bringing a new baby home can be an exciting and stressful time – not just for parents but for your older children as well. Changes to routine, disrupted sleep schedules and less time with mom and dad may throw off every member of the family. Fortunately, a little preparation can help pave the way for a smooth introduction between siblings and baby.
“Start the conversation in a way that’s right for your child’s age and stage of development,” says Veronica Linares, MD, FAAP and internist/pediatrician with Adventist Medical Group. “You can be straightforward while still being assuring and comforting about the exciting new changes that are coming up.”
Here are a few other tips to help get older children excited about a new baby:
- Set the stage. Get your older child ready for the new baby long before he or she comes home from the hospital. Share your news as soon as you are ready, and before telling other family or friends. Throughout your pregnancy, tell your child stories about the things they did when they were a baby, so they can know what to expect when baby does arrive. And get them excited about their new brother or sister by talking about all the things they will get to do together.
- Create a space just for your older child. It’s understandable that children begin to feel jealous of the new attention and things this mysterious baby is getting. Try to set up an area that’s just for your older child. This will also give your child a place where they can go to “get away” from the baby when they need a little break.
- Enlist help. Schedule a grandparent, family member, friend or a babysitter to come over and give your older child some special attention. This gives you time to focus on the baby, but it also provides some special time for your older children with their favorite adults. And when you can, schedule those same helpers to spend time with the baby, and then you can have some one-on-one time with the older children.
- Involve siblings. Give the big brother or sister specific jobs so they can have an important role in taking care of their new baby. Jobs can be as simple as filling a diaper bin or getting a pacifier.
- Take a class. Classes are a great way to get children excited for a new baby brother or sister. Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center offers a Big Brother and Big Sister Class to help get children, ages 3-9, learn about what to expect when their new baby comes home with their parents.
Siblings have a special bond within a family. Your children will undoubtedly form a special relationship and experience a lifetime of memories together.