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Prepping your kids for a new baby sibling

You're excited about the birth of your new baby. But how is your older child feeling about the new arrival?

Often that depends on how old your other child is, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). In general, older children feel less threatened by a new sibling than younger children might.

Preschool children may have more anxiety about the pending birth. They've been watching mommy's belly grow. And despite the best explanations about how there's a baby in there, it's a pretty hard concept for small children to grasp. They may share in your excitement as the due date gets nearer, but after the big day they might have mixed feelings about this new addition to the family.

Understanding that your child is feeling some stress is a great first step. Lots of hugs and a little extra attention may go a long way toward soothing his or her anxieties.

You also might want to try taking some of the following steps suggested by the AAP and other experts:

  • Pick up some children's picture books about having a new sibling. Read them with your child. Use the books to spark talks about the joys and challenges a new brother or sister can bring.
  • Ask for your child's help in preparing for the baby. Invite him or her to help pick out items for the baby's room and buy the baby clothes or toys.
  • Do something special for them. While you're buying items for the new baby, buy something for your older child too. One idea: Give your older child a doll so they will have their own "baby" to care for. Show your child how to be gentle with a baby.
  • Coordinate major changes for your child before the baby is born. For example, complete your older child's toilet training or the move from crib to bed. If the baby is going to take over your child's room, move your child well in advance of the birth to lessen any ill feelings.
  • Be prepared for some regression. For example, a potty-trained child might suddenly start having "accidents" or want to go back to using a bottle. This is your older child's way of getting your attention. Avoid telling them to act their age, but praise them when they do behave like the big kid they are.
  • Ask others for help in making your child feel special. Invite grandma and grandpa to spend some solo time with them. Before and after the baby is born, ask visitors to bring a small gift for your older child too.
  • Get out the photo book. Sit down with your child and look at photos or videos of when he or she was a baby. Talk about how excited everyone was before they were born. Tell them the story of their birth and about who came to the hospital to welcome them.

More pregnancy news

The bond between a mother and her baby is very strong. Learn more about bonding with your baby and why the mother-child relationship is so special.

reviewed 5/19/2020

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