After nine long months of preparation, worry, and excitement, every family is thrilled when their latest family addition finally arrives. If the new baby has siblings at home, however, the adjustment can be a challenge. Getting siblings prepared for a new baby is a process that should begin well before the birth. Here are some suggestions to consider:
Sharing the News
Depending on the ages of the children you already have, you can inform them early on or wait until the physical changes are very noticeable. Younger children might not understand the timeline of months so it might be helpful to choose a familiar seasonal holiday to help them understand when their new sibling will arrive.
During the Pregnancy
Allow siblings to ask questions about the new baby. Begin to prepare them for ways they can help such as getting a new diaper or organizing baby toys. Other activities that children 4 and older might enjoy include: looking at their own baby pictures, picking out names, attending a doctor’s appointment to hear the heartbeat, reading books about babies and siblings, visiting people with infants, and getting ready for the trip to the hospital. Medical Center Arlington offers tours of the hospital to help siblings get excited and informed about the new baby’s arrival.
As the Due Date Approaches
Make any transitions such as moving rooms around, potty training, or going from crib to bed at least a few weeks before your due date or else wait until a few weeks after the birth. Keep routines as normal as possible so siblings will feel comfortable. Discuss who will care for them during your hospital stay. As soon as the baby is born, allow siblings to visit in the hospital at a quiet time without other visitors so you can enjoy special family time together.
Bringing Home Baby
Once baby is home, be sure to allow siblings to be as involved with infant care as possible. Their help might make tasks take longer, but it’s essential to make them feel important. Siblings might like to entertain, talk or sing to, and play with the baby. During events like breastfeeding, you can provide siblings with fun toys or activities to keep them busy and happy while mommy and baby spend alone time together. When friends and relatives visit, remind them that siblings may want to talk about their own lives rather than the new baby, so be sure to ask about school, sports, or favorite activities.
Feelings to Expect
New siblings may feel jealous, confused, lonely, excited, and scared all within a short time span. Some siblings may show no interest in the new baby, which is also normal. Just talk about their feelings with them and also make them feel important, special, and loved. There is no perfect transition so prepare for bumps and snags but count on your love as a family to make the transition as joyful as possible.
Medical Center Arlington offers a sibling class with discussions and activities. This class is intended for for ages 3 and up. Classes are held on the first Saturday of the month from 10:00 am – 11:30 am in the Women’s Center, 1st Floor, in the OB Classroom. Cost is $10 per mom / child; $15 for two or more children. Contact (817) 472-4787 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Siblings over 10 might also enjoy the Infant Care Class so that they can learn more about being directly involved in the care of the new baby.