A new baby sibling is a big deal for the whole family. Whether the new baby sibling will be the first sibling of your other children or one more of many, it’s a big adjustment. Making your children feel like an important part of your pregnancy can make the arrival of your new baby a much easier transition and even happier occasion.
Parents sometimes find it difficult to include siblings in the pregnancy and planning for a new baby sibling. Often, children are not allowed in doctor’s appointments. Often, parents try to shop for the new baby privately, perhaps concerned that the siblings will feel like it’s “not fair” that the new baby sibling is getting so many new things. Children might already be feeling twinges of jealousy during pregnancy, because parents are even busier, as they prepare for the new baby’s pending arrival. Understandably, to the siblings, it can begin to feel like everything is about the new baby. Only. About. The. New. Baby.
10 Tips to Include Big Brothers & Sisters in Your Pregnancy
1. Let siblings help pick out a name.
It doesn’t matter if your child comes up with a name like, “Fluffy.” Be sure to praise your child(ren) for their idea. Let them know their suggestions are being added to the list of possible names. Regardless of what name you pick for the new baby sibling, the other siblings will remember being a part of the naming process.
2. Let siblings help prepare the room or area for their new baby sibling.
Again, it doesn’t matter how much final input the siblings have. The point is to make them feel like a valuable part of the process. You can discuss colors, furniture, supplies, artwork, and accessories.
3. Teach siblings how to do specific newborn care tasks.
Let siblings be in charge of keeping the diaper bag packed and the changing table stocked. Create checklists together of all the things that should be included and on-hand. Practice reading favorite books to the new baby sibling. Make a plan to let siblings read to the new baby daily. This is a great way to get those 20-30 minutes of reading in for the older siblings, too!
4. Celebrate older siblings with a gift or party before the arrival of their new baby sibling.
T-shirts for older siblings are a great way to honor and celebrate them. A journal for them to write about their experience as an older sibling, is a great gift! Have a Big Brother/Sister Boot Camp day. Use the day to train them on sibling duties and newborn care with fun activities and games. Throw a big brother/sister party with fun games similar to a typical baby shower. These ideas can help get them excited about their new role.
5. Plan out one-on-one time for after the baby is born.
Even when older siblings are excited about a new sibling, they can get frustrated with the decrease in attention. Make a plan together to spend one-on-one time with the older siblings. It could just be a special bedtime routine or a five-minute mommy-and-me time. It doesn’t matter how you spend your time together, as long as it is quality time, consistent, and dedicated to the older sibling(s.)
6. Let siblings talk to the baby and feel the movements during pregnancy.
Just like mom’s relationship with her new baby begins during pregnancy, so can the siblings’ relationships. Letting your children read or talk to the baby helps them take on their new role as an older sibling. Tell them about the baby’s growth milestones as they feel mom’s tummy. Encourage interaction and give older siblings lots of praise.
7. Let older siblings pick out a gift from them for the new baby sibling.
This will help older siblings feel like they are part of the giving. Between friends, family, baby showers, and co-workers, new babies get lots of gifts. Be sure to point out how very special an older siblings gift is, and how much it will mean to the new baby.
8. Remind siblings that parents need a little break sometimes.
Having a new baby can be exhausting, especially if parents aren’t taking time to rest. There will be even more demands on your schedule with a new child, but not more hours in the day. Taking these much-needed breaks during pregnancy will help older siblings get used to you taking more breaks after the baby is born. Avoid trying to do twice as much, out of guilt or stress, so that you don’t get burnout. In fact, you’ll need more breaks after the new baby is born. Even if it’s just a few minutes to rest your feet, take care of you!
9. Conduct new baby safety training and frequent drills.
Teach older siblings about newborn safety. Let them participate in baby-proofing and explain why each measure is important for the safety of the new baby. Show them how to identify choking hazards such as small object, especially round ones, toys, food, pillows, and clothing. Let them know what things require immediately notifying the parents or caregiver, such as the crib railing being down, coughing, or a change in baby’s color.
10. Let siblings field questions from friends and family.
Teach siblings the answers to FAQs so they can respond to friends and family. Let them take the lead! Some things they can learn are the due date, sex of the baby, the name, and what things you still need for the new baby. Giving siblings the opportunity to field questions will make them feel important, and an authority on the new baby sibling.
What things have you done to prepare your other children for a new baby sibling? We’d love to know! Share in the comments.
By: Alicia Gonzalez
These are great tips. We tried really hard when my grandson was born to make sure his sister still felt important. I think people always need to remember not to forget the child that was there first.