Becoming a big sister or big brother is a significant transition, and it can be a challenging and exciting time for a child.
When a new baby is on the way, it’s important to help the older child prepare for the arrival of their little brother or little sister. Here are some tips for helping a big sibling prepare for a baby:
1) Talk to your child about the new baby: Before the baby arrives, take some time to talk to your child about the baby. Explain what will happen when the baby comes, and answer any questions your child may have. Find something you can do together that piques their interest. My stepson and daughter loved to watch videos on babycenter.com with me to see how the baby was growing and developing. This will help to reduce anxiety and prepare your child for the new arrival.
2) Involve your child in the preparations: As you prepare for the new baby, try to involve your child in the process as much as possible. This could mean letting them help you choose baby clothes or decorate the nursery, or even just letting them listen to the baby’s heartbeat with a stethoscope. We brought the older kids to a sonogram appointment so they could feel part the experience. Involving your child in the preparations will help them to feel included and excited about the new baby.
3) Help your child develop a bond with the new baby: After the baby is born, it’s important to lay the foundation for bonding. Often older children wait excitedly for their new playmate to arrive and are surprised to find that newborns can’t actually interact all that much. We saw that coming and set the stage for bonding down the line. We let the older kids hold the baby (with supervision and support), read book and sing to the baby. We explained that as “Super Siblings,” it’s the big brother and big sister’s job to help protect the baby. This helped our kiddos to feel more connected to the new baby and helped foster a positive relationship between the siblings.
4) Provide support and reassurance: As your child adjusts to life with a new sibling, it’s important to provide extra support and reassurance. This could mean offering comfort and encouragement when your child is feeling overwhelmed or jealous, or just being there to listen and offer support. If possible, reserve time and space that is focused on your older child. When our baby arrived, big sister could always count on breakfast with dad, just the two of them. She knew she would have mom to herself at bedtime too. With all the change swirling around her, she could hold on to those two constants. Providing support and reassurance will help your child to feel loved and valued, and will help to make the transition to becoming a big brother a positive experience.
5) Bonus Idea: Throw a party! Celebrate the new big brother and big sister with a big sibling party that is all about them. Invite their pals and celebrate all the things that big kids can do – like eating pizza and Super Sibling cupcakes, playing fun big kid games and whatever else they like. We did this for my stepson and my daughter and it was a big hit. All spotlight was on the big kids and they stood up extra tall and proud that day….while baby slept through most of it.
Overall, helping a big brother or big sister prepare for a baby is an important part of the transition to becoming a sibling. By providing support, reassurance, and involvement, you can help your child to adjust to life with a new sibling and develop a positive and loving relationship.
And always remember, our kiddos don’t come with user manuals. In case you need to hear it, you’re doing a GREAT job. You’ve got this mama.