The arrival of a new baby can bring many changes to a family. Parents spend a lot of energy on preparations, and after the baby arrives, much of the family's attention involves caring for the newborn.
All this change can be hard for older siblings to handle. It's common for them to feel jealousy toward the newborn and to react to the upheaval by acting out.
But parents can prepare kids for an addition to the family. Discussing the pregnancy in terms that make sense to kids, making some arrangements, and including kids in the care of the newborn can make things easier for everyone.
Here are some ways to share the big news:
Sharing the news
- Books about babies and being a big brother or sister can help with explanations. Be honest, and keep the words simple.
- When giving them information about the due date, use timing they are used to (for instance, a holiday or summer break).
- Depending on your child’s age, tell him or her what to expect when the baby arrives. (“The baby will be cute and fun, but he or she will not be able to be a playmate immediately. The new baby will take up some of ‘mommy’s’ time.”)
- Share the excitement of the new baby with your child, as some of this may rub off. Tell them they will be the big brother or big sister and how special that will be.
Preparing for the arrival
- Allow your child to be involved in preparations…picking out clothing, blankets, toys, etc.
- Try to spend extra time with your child prior to the arrival of the new baby.
- Prepare the child for your hospitalization by verbally telling them, but also make plans for family or a friend to stay with the child.
- Time other major changes, like potty training or changing from crib to bed, for before the baby arrives or after baby has settled into the new family.
- Once the baby arrives, allow your child to help care for the baby (like assisting with feeding or diaper changes, for example) if he or she child is old enough.
- Make sure that special time is reserved for you to spend with the child after the new baby’s arrival.