How to talk to your child about: new siblings
Welcoming a new baby is a key life event for everyone in the family. If you already have a child, you are likely to find yourself needing to help them understand this change.
So we’d like to give you some tips on how to prepare toddlers and children for a new baby brother or sister.
Siblings-to-be can feel confused, jealous or concerned when they learn that a new sibling is on the way. Preparing them for the new baby’s arrival is important to make sure your family growing is the happy event it should be.
Breaking the news
When, and how you tell your child that you are expecting their brother or sister is a personal choice but we’ve got a few suggestions of things to consider before you do:
- Plan extra time for your child to digest the news and to answer any questions they may have, such as “Where do babies come from?” Keep your answers honest but appropriate to their level of understanding.
- Consider delaying sharing your news with very young children as they may not understand the long wait before you are due.
- Explain babies take a while to grow and that the new baby is coming in timescales that they will understand, for example, “after daddy’s birthday” or “before winter”.
Preparing for the New Baby
For example, if you have a toddler in a cot that you want to move into a bed, do it sooner rather than later to avoid resentment at being pushed out. Other things to consider include:
- Toilet training – tackle this well before your due date or leave it until after the baby is born to avoid your toddler regressing to nappies when they see the baby in them.
- Routines – will your routines change on maternity leave? Will your child spend longer or shorter periods at a nursery or childminder, or even start or leave that setting completely? Prepare them for the changes in advance.
- Time with others – make sure your child is familiar with the person who will mind them when you are in labour and have a few practice runs so you won’t worry about them and can focus on the birth.
- Visit a Newborn – if any friends have recently had a baby, visit and let your child learn a bit about babies. Show how they sleep, feed and are generally not a new playmate until they have grown a little. Manage your child’s expectations so they aren’t disappointed.
Getting Siblings Involved
Sharing the joy of preparing can be a great bonding experience and helps to create a positive emotional attachment while their sibling is still in the womb.
- Let them feel the baby kicking, choose some clothes for the hospital bag or pick out a new blanket.
- Can they suggest any names? Can you take them along to a 3D scan?
- Spend time together looking at their scan and baby pictures and let them help wash their baby clothes ready for the new baby.
Remember any acting out or behaviour issues could be a sign your child is struggling with the news and could be hiding their worries. It’s a normal part of accepting the changes ahead so be gentle but firm and encourage them to share their concerns.
We hope these tips have been helpful to help prepare for this exciting time. Make sure to schedule in lots of cuddles, kisses and opportunities to talk. With lots of reassurance from you, your little one will soon be glowing with pride at becoming a big brother or sister.
Categorised in: parenting advice
This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer