child meets sibling

Preparing a Child for a Sibling

Welcome, all you expectant parents out there! You’re about to embark on a thrilling journey of expanding your family, but things are a little different this time. You already have a pint-sized human running around, and now you’re adding another one to the mix.  Buckle up because you’re about to dive into preparing a child for a new sibling … And it’s like adding another scoop of ice cream to the already delicious sundae of parenthood – double the fun, right? 


The Baby Bombshell

The infamous big reveal! Announcing a sibling is like dropping a bomb on your older child’s world. It’s a plot twist even Agatha Christie would envy. Here’s a few things to remember when figuring out how to break the news:

  • Start with leading questions: wouldn’t it be nice to have a little brother or sister to play with? you can introduce the idea of a new sibling by helping your child visualize it first.
  • Timing Is Everything: Choose the right moment to drop the bombshell. Avoid doing it when your older child is stressed, hungry, or in the middle of a tantrum. Timing can be your secret weapon!
  • Keep It Simple: Don’t go full Shakespeare on them. Keep the announcement simple, age-appropriate, and exciting. You want them to anticipate a new playmate, not a new overlord.

The Sibling Crash Course

Now that your older child knows they’re about to gain a sibling, it’s time for the crash course. Here, we’ll prepare your older child for a new sibling by sharing the ins and outs of newborn care.

  • Baby 101: Start with the basics. Explain what babies are like – they cry, sleep a lot, and do weird things with their poop. Keep it light-hearted, and answer questions honestly. Your older child might have some wild ones!
  • Get Them Involved: Let your older child be part of the baby preparations. Take them shopping for baby clothes or let them pick out a special toy for their new sibling. This not only makes them feel included but also builds excitement.
  • Role-Playing: Embrace your inner thespian! Play pretend games where your older child gets to be the parent, feeding and diapering a doll. It’s both educational and entertaining.

The Art of Inclusivity

Being a sibling is like being part of an exclusive club, and you want your older child to feel like they’re holding the VIP pass. Here’s how to make a child feel included:

  • Decorating Together: Let your older child help decorate the nursery or choose the color scheme. This not only sparks their creativity but also makes them feel like a crucial part of the baby’s arrival.
  • Family Meetings: Hold family meetings to discuss baby plans, like who gets to choose the bedtime story or what activities you’ll do together. It’s democracy in action, and their input matters!
  • Bonding Time: Make a conscious effort to spend one-on-one time with your older child. Whether it’s a weekly outing to their favorite park or a movie night at home, this strengthens your connection and reminds them that even though babies require lots of attention, you still love them just as much.

And So It Begins

Finally, the day has come! The baby is here, and it’s time to put all your preparations into action.

  • First Meeting: Introduce your older child to their new sibling with care. Make it a special moment (it never hurts when “the baby” gives their older sibling a gift!), and capture it on camera. They’ll cherish those first interactions forever.
  • Be Patient: Adjusting to a new family dynamic can take time. Be patient with your older child as they navigate their feelings and settle into their role as a sibling.
  • Keep the Routine: Maintain as much of your older child’s routine as possible. This helps them feel secure amidst the changes.
  • “You are my first baby forever”: Dr. Tovah Klein writes in Psychology Today about how adapting to a new role can be exciting and challenging. Easy language describing their new role can help during the transition. 

The Delicate Balance

Let’s face it, sibling rivalry is as old as time itself. But you can minimize the inevitable clashes with some savvy parenting moves.

  • Sibling Bonding: Encourage bonding between your older child and the baby. Let them help with gentle tasks, like singing lullabies or picking out baby clothes. These moments can create a lifelong connection.
  • Keep it Positive: When you need a minute, try not to use the baby as the scapegoat. “Mama needs 10 more minutes and then I can play cars with you,” reads differently to your older child than, “Mama can’t play right now. I’m feeding the baby.” 
  • The Power of Praise: Praise your older child for their patience and kindness towards the baby. Positive reinforcement goes a long way in encouraging good behavior.
  • Maintain Rituals: Julia Pelly in the Washington Post mentions how it may be helpful to maintain existing rituals with the older siblings. This reinforces that parents still respect the relationship they have built so far. Prioritizing one-on-one time is important as well, to connect and talk.  

Whenever things get tough try to remember, you’re not just raising children; you’re nurturing a sibling bond that will last a lifetime. Embrace the chaos, celebrate the small victories, and savor those precious moments of sibling love. You’ve got this!

This is also a great time to start thinking of building your postpartum village as well – a group of friends and family who can help you during your postpartum recovery.