Preparing your Older Child for a New Baby

Preparing for a new baby is an exciting and emotional time. If you already have children, part of preparing for a new baby is preparing your older children for a new addition to the family. To encourage a healthy bond between siblings, it is important to explain to your older children what it means to become a big brother/sister. No matter what age your older child or children are, it is important to make them feel loved and connected throughout the preparation process. Below we will review some tips for you and your children.

Preparing children 1 to 2 years old

  • Children in this age group likely will not understand the addition of a new baby but it is still important to try. Showing them picture books of babies and repeatedly using the words “Big sister”, “Big brother” or even the new baby’s name will help familiarize your older child with the words.
  • Give them a present from the baby like a new book or toy they have been wanting. This will help create a bond.
  • Read children’s books about preparing for a baby.
  • Show them pictures of your pregnancy with them and anytime you feel movement have them talk and touch your belly.

Preparing children 2 to 5 years old

  • Children in this age group are likely to become jealous of all the attention that will be put on a new baby therefore it is crucial to set aside time to read, play games and hang out with them to assure they feel loved.
  • Involve your children in the preparation process. Bring them with you when you go shopping for baby items and ask them to choose one special gift for their new sibling.
  • If you plan to have a hospital birth prepare your child for spending a few nights away from each other by having them do fun sleep-overs with grandparents or cousins leading up to the birth of the baby. When they come to visit you and the baby in the hospital have a family member bring birthday cupcakes and have your older child and family sing happy birthday to the baby.
  • Tell your child the truth: their new sibling will require a lot of your time and attention because they aren’t able to do “Big Boy” or “Big Girl” things like they are able to. Praise your older child when they act “grown-up” or help you take care of the baby in small but meaningful ways. Let them know the baby is fragile and they need to be gentle and careful when holding or playing with them.

All these methods are sure to help the process of adding a new member to the family. Strong sibling bonds lead to healthy social connections and good mental health. Having a sibling means having a best friend for life!

Check out these great books to read while preparing for a new baby: