Having baby number two (or three or more)? If so, then your biggest concern is rightfully how will your existing child(ren) handle the change. And let me be clear, it is a BIG change. In this blog, I’m covering the ins and outs of introducing siblings, before and after birth.
Before Baby is Born
- Give siblings a timeline they understand for baby’s arrival. Such as “your new
brother/sister will be here after your birthday, or around Christmas, or just before
school ends for the summer.”
- Tell your child the story of his/her birth and when you were pregnant with him/her.
- Bring out the child’s baby book, pictures, and other memorabilia. Point out how special
he/she is and will always be.
- Read age appropriate books or watch videos about becoming a big brother or sister.
Topics to discuss could include where babies come from, growing families have love for
everyone, and how he/she can help with the new baby.
- Give your child the appropriate expectations: explain the first few months the baby will
do little more than eat, sleep, and cry.
- Decorate the newborn’s room with your child. Make room changes as early in the
pregnancy as possible so your older child doesn’t feel “thrown out.” If you plan to use
your older child’s crib for the new baby, get her into her new bed long before the baby
comes. Remove the crib from the room for awhile so when you return it for the new
baby, your older child will not think of it as her crib. Buy new bedding for the crib so
your child doesn’t feel like she’s turning over her entire bed to a newcomer.
- Bring your child with you to a doctor’s visit to listen to the baby’s heartbeat or watch a
sonogram if age appropriate.
- Make major changes such as toilet training or giving up a pacifier or weaning at least a
few months before you expect to give birth. Backsliding once the baby comes happens
sometimes and it’s okay. Start any planned new daily routines such as a new daycare a
few weeks before your baby is due.
- Discuss where the child will be while you are in the hospital or other birth place. Let him
know he can call whenever he wants and will be allowed to visit. Set up some fun
activities for him to do during your hospital stay. Begin arranging time for your child to
spend alone with grandparents, caregivers, and your spouse so others can tend to his
needs while you care for the baby.
- Sit for a friend or relative’s baby a few times before the birth of your new child to get
him/her used to having a baby around.
- Prepare sibling for what a newborn looks like. Some kids can be upset to see a purple
baby or one with a funny-shaped head.
When Siblings Meet
- Provide a gift for the older sibling from the new baby and you. One idea is to give your
child a Big Brother or Big Sister t-shirt the first time they come to visit you in the
- Consider having your partner or another family member carry the baby into the home
so Mom is free to hug the older child on the day you are discharged from the hospital.
- Do different activities with one parent while the other is providing baby care keep both
(or more) children secure in the family circle.
- Do not try to make your child stay quiet while the baby sleeps. Your baby will adapt to
the noise and your older child’s life will be less disrupted.
- Allow your older child new privileges such as a later bedtime or extended playtime
- Do not blame the baby for big changes that disrupt your older child’s life. If you can’t go
outside because of the baby’s naptime don’t always point out that it’s the baby’s fault.
By doing so, you risk giving your child reasons to resent the baby.
- If you find yourself in the middle of an activity with your older child when your baby
begins crying, wait a minute or two before responding to show the importance of what
you have been doing and that your connection to your older child remains strong.
- Expect some regressive and “acting out” behavior until the older child begins to feel
loved and secure that his/her needs will still be met with family changes. This is normal.
- When feeding the new baby/babies give siblings something special to do. If it’s a job
they like to help you. IE bring you a diaper and etc. Sometimes the older siblings do well
when they are given a special toy or book they have only when you are feeding the
- Include the siblings in what you are doing with baby at an aged appropriate level. Be
careful not to make them help too much that they are unable to still be a kid.
Introducing siblings is an important part of welcoming baby #2 (or more!). Doing it right can make all the difference in the foundation of their relationship.
If you have any questions about introducing siblings or sibling relationships, don’t hesitate to reach out.
And most importantly, siblings are so special! I’m wishing you all the best as you enter the phase of introducing siblings and raising good friends.