For most couples, news of a new baby on the way is usually a huge delight. But even as couples celebrate the coming of a baby, it’s important to take time to consider the feelings of your older kid(s). Because parents will spend a lot of energy on preparations before and after the baby arrives, all these changes can be hard for older siblings to handle. It’s common for them to feel jealousy toward the newborn and in some instances, act out. So with that at the back of our minds, how should we prepare kids for the arrival of a new sibling?
Let them know as soon as you find out
The very first thing to preparing kids for a new sibling is to also tell them as soon as you’re telling anybody else, even if your child doesn’t understand. To tell a child about your pregnancy, you should consider your child’s maturity and use age-appropriate terms to explain. When you mention about your pregnancy to them, expect follow-up questions. Let these be your guide.
For example, a 4-year-old child may ask: “Where do babies come from?” Despite how it sounds, the child isn’t asking you to explain sex but probably wants to know where, literally, they come from. It may be enough to explain: “The baby comes from inside mum’s belly.”
Look at picture books about a new baby
For preschoolers between the age of 2-4 years, they might not understand much about what it means to have a new brother or sister. So it’s best to explain to them using pictures from age-appropriate books. Look at pictures that depict a family setting with two or more kids. At the very least, your child will become familiar with words like “sister,” “brother,” and “new baby”. This will prepare him/her for the new sibling.
Explain that the new baby will be cute and cuddly but will also cry and take a lot of your time and attention. Also, make sure that your older child knows that it may be a while before he can play with the new baby. Reassure your child that you will love him just as much after the baby is born as you do now.
Involve your child in preparations
When you start buying clothes and furniture for the new baby, involving your older child will go a long way in preparing him/her. This will make them less jealous. Let them shop with you for baby items and pick a few things by themselves for their new sibling.
Talk with excitement about the new baby
When talking about the new baby around your older child, let your child feel your excitement. He/she may not understand why you are excited, but your attitude will rub off on him/her and he/she will feel excited too.
Try to do something special for your older child
When the new sibling arrives, it’s important to reassure your older kids that they are still loved. Some ideas include giving them a special gift, letting them spend some time alone with dad, grandma, or another special adult, or taking them someplace special.