Ten Tips To Prepare a Child To Be An Older Sibling

As our family is preparing for the arrival of baby #2, I am being very intentional about ensuring our daughter feels loved and cherished.

Although she does regularly express her excitement to become a big sister, I’m very aware that having a new baby in the house will be an adjustment for us all. I’m trying to set the groundwork now to help her understand that no one will ever replace her and that she will always hold a very special place in our hearts.

Photo by: Kenney Ellison Photography

With this intentionality, I went to social media for tips from others with experience or wisdom on how to help with her transition.

Here are 10 great ideas from some of my followers on how to help your child(ren) adjust to a new baby on the way:

1) Get your child a gift “from the baby”

Such a small gesture can go a long way in reminding your child that he/she is not forgotten amidst the excitement & preparation for the new baby. I plan on doing this, and making a big production of it when Chi visits the baby for the first time.

2) Allow your child to be involved in choosing and purchasing a gift for the baby

Most young kids love helping so creating time to get the new baby a gift that they directly chose can satisfy their desire to feel useful. I hope to take this a step further and allow Chi to wrap the gift and bring it with her to the hospital when she visits.

3) Bring your child to prenatal appointments

Seeing their little sibling on the ultrasound screen (along with an explanation) can be very useful in making the process seem more real. I’ve brought Chi to almost every appointment and she looks forward to “checking on the baby” with me regularly.

4) Encourage your child to talk to the baby

As the bump gets bigger and more visible, having your child converse with the belly can be a great reminder that there actually is a baby there. This can help foster that bond from the beginning, well before baby actually arrives.

5) Read books/watch shows on becoming a big sibling

Representation matters, and this includes letting a child know they’re not the only one going through the transition of welcoming a new baby home. Providing age appropriate commentary or explanations to further drive home the idea could be useful to normalize some of the emotions associated with becoming an older sibling.

6) Provide constant reminders and/or positive affirmations

Even if you feel like you’re a broken record, I’m confident that the consistent reinforcement can really help drive a point home. Remind your child they’re important & a valubale member of the family. My daughter tends to grasp concepts best after repetition so this is a method that I’m using religiously so there’s no question about how important she is to our family, even with the new baby coming.

7) Plan to carve out time that is designated specifically for your child, without the baby being involved

So far during the pregnancy I have been taking my daughter on “mommy and me dates” and she really looks forward to them. I’m aware that when the new baby gets here things will look different & planning our alone time will take more work, but I’m determined to make it a priority.

8) Use language like “our baby” to create a sense of ownership

I am a firm believer that words have power and letting your child know that they will have a responsibility to care for their younger sibling in their own way is important. Changing the narrative from “the baby” to “our baby” is one small gesture that can create a sense of pride and true ownership of their new role as an older sibling.

9) Clearly lay out expectations of what the role of older sibling will look like

Being that my daughter is 3.5 years old, her role as a big sister will be different than that of a much older child. I’ve made it clear to her that she won’t be able to do things like attempt to collect the baby out of the crib unattended, or change a diaper by herself, but going to grab diapers or wipes are tasks she’s very capable of doing. She is always very attentive during these discussions, which lets me know she’s excited at the prospect of being a valuable part of the baby’s care team.

10) Purchase a doll or other toy that the child can care for before and after the baby arrives

This can help draw parallels and answer any questions on what truly comes along with caring for a new baby. You can use the doll to encourage showing affection, discussing diaper changes, or even highlighting what feedings will look like. This can also be accomplished with toys like action figures or stuffed animals.

As much as you try to prepare a child for the arrival of a new sibling, there are some aspects that won’t be fully grasped until the baby actually arrives. With that, though, we can attempt to control what we can in preparation for the baby’s arrival by following the tips listed above to help our child(ren) have as smooth of a transition as possible.

The idea that my daughter may feel forgotten about, or less loved once her new sibling arrives concerns me. Afterall, she’s the child who officially made me a mommy and my rainbow after the storm and it’s my hope that she always knows the depth of my love for her.

Photo by Kenney Ellison

With all the steps we’re taking to mitigate any possible negative emotions that may arise during this adjument period, I am feeling better and less concerned about welcoming the new baby to our house.

Shout out to my community who sent over these tips & suggestions; it’s my hope that they help you as much as they’ve helped me!


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