We believe it is important that expectant families make special plans to help new “big brothers” and “big sisters” prepare for their new roles and adjust to having to share mommy and daddy with the new baby.
As a start, here are a few ideas or things to consider:
- The concept of time is something we learn as we grow. For toddlers and pre-schoolers, don’t start talking about the baby too soon.
- Share pictures of when these children were babies.
- Tell them the stories of their birth and baby days.
- Get books and DVDs that show pictures of babies and baby care routines.
- Get books and DVDs made especially for preparing siblings for a new baby.
- Get books that tell about, and show pictures of, the baby’s growth and development during pregnancy.
- Talk about the care of the new baby. Show where and how it will take place.
- Arrange supplies and identify safe ways this older child can help with baby care tasks.
- Share the “kicks” and movement of the baby inside of mom. Encourage the children to touch, talk, even kiss the “new” baby through mom’s abdomen.
- Through stories, pictures and DVDs, help small children understand that the new baby will not be an instant “playmate” for them.
- If friends have a new baby, make arrangements with that mom for a visit to show your children more of how little babies look, act and sound.
- If cribs, a highchair, a bedroom, any type of equipment or toys are going to be shifted from an older child to the new baby, make these changes several months before the baby comes. Encourage the children to participate in passing on a “baby” item. Give them time to adjust and power in the giving. This can help avoid feelings of “displacement.”
- With these changes, emphasize the new status of being a “big” girl/boy or sister/brother. Grant new privileges to go along with this new role in life.
- Schedule your child for our Sibling Preparation class, Expectant Parent Education .
- Encourage the child’s help with the Packing for the Hospital. Ask for a special drawing or picture to include in your suitcase.
- Encourage a small child to keep a favorite teddy bear or doll in hand and, as you care for the baby, they care for the bear/doll.
- Plan ahead and have several small gifts wrapped and ready for after delivery in case visitors shower the new baby with gifts and attention but over-look the older child.
- When mom comes home from the hospital, consider bringing a new doll, game or special gift along too as a gift to the new big brother/sister from the baby.
- When mom comes in the house, have someone else carry the baby in. This keeps mom’s arms free of competition for that “welcome home” hug.