Your older child may have many questions about their new sibling on the way, and you probably do too. A new baby can have a big impact on siblings. Understand how to prepare your child, introduce the new baby, and encourage a healthy sibling bond. Read on for tips to meet the whole family's needs during this important adjustment period.
Breaking the News
Learning that a new baby is on the way is a life-changing moment and one an older sibling will likely remember forever.
For toddlers, it might be a good idea to tell him or her about your pregnancy once the pregnancy is well established (sometime after your first trimester) and you have a noticeable bump – right around the time that you tell your friends and family. It will make more sense to them and they'll understand what is going on once they can see some evidence. For toddlers, it's likely they have a hard time keeping something like that a secret, so they might announce things like, "Mommy is having a baby!"
With older children, breaking the news might be a bit more complicated. It's best to find a time when they are relaxed and not dealing with any other stressful events like changes in school or sports tryouts. If possible, for children of any age, have both parents present so he or she feels completely supported. Ease into it – tell stories about when your sibling was born, or try to discuss what activities your child might enjoy doing with their new sibling in the future.
How Will My Child React?
Your child is likely to have mixed emotions. Some children ask questions to fully understand what is going on. Others may not want to talk about it at all. It's normal for a child to feel uneasy, however, many children are interested and excited about the new addition to the family. Respect your child's interests, but also make sure you still properly prepare them for when the baby comes.
What Steps Can I Take to Help My Child Adjust to Having a New Baby in the Family?
Involve Your Child in the Preparations
Invite him or her to pick out supplies for the baby, organize and choose the baby's clothes, or make small decisions about the baby's room. This will help your child feel included and wanted as part of the "welcoming committee."
Keep the schedule as normal as possible, and try to avoid any other big changes, such as moving or starting a new school.
Spend Time Together
As the pregnancy progresses, continue to give your child the amount of attention he or she deserves. Stay present with your child and try to spend as much time with him or her as possible.
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About Pediatric Services
Doylestown Health is committed to providing family-centered children's services to Bucks and Montgomery County communities. The Carol and Louis Della Penna Pediatric Center offers expert inpatient care to all ages including infants, children and teens. Della Penna Pediatric Center Services extend beyond the hospital setting to include health and wellness education, nutrition services and other support services.