Hey Mama, today we are talking all about how to prepare your child for a sibling. A new addition to the family is always exciting but it is also an adjustment. Anything new shakes up the familiar and places us outside of our comfort zones, even if it's a change we want.
Everyone in your family is going to need time to adjust to a new baby and that means you too. This is something I don't think I realized until it happened. It’s challenging trying to figure out how to shuffle around time to accommodate multiple children.
We got pregnant with my daughter around the time of my son’s first birthday so the ideas below are best suited to a young child (1-5). An older child might require different preparations but reading through this to get an idea of where to start can certainly be helpful. Every child and situation is unique but starting to prepare them as early as possible for this change will give them the maximum amount of time to process and understand it.
Starting Off With The Basics
One of my favorite ways to introduce the idea of a new baby to my son was by watching Daniel Tiger. Season 5 is all about Daniel getting a new baby sister and working through the changes it brings. We had my son watch an episode from that season at least once a week throughout my pregnancy.
I would talk to him about the episode and explain how our family would be experiencing the same thing soon. Even if your child is very young, this can still be extremely helpful. I have found that even one-year-olds can understand a lot more than we think. This is a great way to introduce the idea in a very casual way.
As time goes on you might want to introduce some books to read. My son and I’s favorites were I am a Big Brother (Or I am a Big Sister) and How Big is Our Baby. Reading them frequently and pointing out the big sibling and the baby helped reinforce the idea. I would also point to the older sibling and say my son’s name and then point to the baby and say our daughter's name to really drive the point home.
Preparing The Nursery
Another helpful way to prepare your child is to start putting your baby's nursery together as soon as possible. I found this to be one of the most impactful actions we took. If they will be sharing a room, set up the other crib as soon as you can so they can start to understand the changes that will be happening with physical evidence.
Of course, they will see your belly growing but a crib in their room or another room in the house being transformed into a nursery will show them that changes are coming and here to stay. Doing these preparations well before the baby is due will give them time to adjust without everything hitting all at once.
The reality of a new human suddenly added to the family will be shock enough. As you are getting the room ready, I would also recommend playing in the new baby’s room as well as letting them play with the baby’s new toys. Allow them in your new baby's crib and let them explore the physical changes that are taking place in your home. This allows them to get comfortable with the altering landscape around them. We would have our son play in our soon-to-be daughter’s room every single day leading up to her arrival.
If possible, involve them in decisions regarding the baby or their belongings. For example, you are deciding between two different wall colors for your new nursery, let them make the choice. Take them to Target or BuyBuy Baby and let them pick out a toy for the baby or let them choose a bubble bath or swaddle blanket, etc. Involving them in decisions will help them feel some sense of control.
Relating & Connecting With Your Child
Talk to them about what is happening often. Let them feel the baby move and ask them how they feel about having a new brother or sister. Let them know that it is okay to be nervous or unsure. Let them confide their feelings and nurture them into a deeper connection between you and your child. If you remember getting a new sibling, tell them about it. Relating to what they are going through will be extremely helpful.
Let them also know that the connection you share is not going anywhere. Try to make time after the new baby arrives to have one on one time with them like it used to be. This will provide a sense of normalcy when their world feels anything but. Give them your undivided attention and comfort even if it’s only for 20 minutes. This is an exercise that will be good for both of you while everyone is adjusting to the new normal.
There is a Period of Transition No Matter What
Lastly, understand that no matter how much you try to prepare your child for the arrival of a new baby, it’s going to be a shock. Expect this. Expect some changes in behavior and expect that your patience might not be at its peak after just having a baby. Your hormones will be all over the place and your child will also be emotional.
Try to rely on your partner to help restore some balance. It’s going to take time for everyone to adjust but little by little and day by day everyone will find their way. Remember in the tough moments that your family and child are better off for having a sibling. It teaches them compassion, how to share, and shows them that the world revolves around more than just them.
Having multiple children also helps you grow as a parent and will test you in ways that deepen your bonds with your children and your calling of motherhood. If you enjoyed this post, you might also like Transitioning from 1 to 2 Kids: What to Know.