Preparing for a Sibling
By Emma Thomas – mum to a 2 year old, blogger and writer, with a background as a Kindy Teacher/Director
We are waiting for a new baby to arrive in our house. It’s an exciting (and a slightly nerve wracking!) time. We are in a good place at the moment, our 2 year old sleeps all night, we’ve started toilet training, my part time work is going well – and now we are about to change all of that by adding a newborn baby! Our daughter will be 2 and a half when the baby comes and we know that it will be a big transition for all of us.
I have been doing lots of reading and research about how to get ready for a new baby and wanted to share my thoughts with you! I hope you find these helpful.
Pick the right time to tell your child/children:
This will depend on the age of your child, we told our daughter about half way through the pregnancy when all of our friends and family knew. She is too young to keep a secret! I was starting to show and this helped us to explain things to her in a way she could relate to, she says ‘baby in mummy’s tummy!’.
You may need to tell older children earlier if they notice things like morning sickness or extra doctors appointments. This can also be a special privilege for them to know before others do.
Reading is such a great way to explain things to young children and help them to become familiar with new ideas. We have been reading lots of books about babies, families and growing.
Some of our favourites are:
There’s A House Inside My Mummy by Giles Andreae and Vanessa Cabban
Once There Were Giants
Too Busy Sleeping by Zanni Louise
The Bump by Mij Kelly
I Wonder About Our New Baby By Alice Cameron, Christine Lott
This is an old book and hard to find, but it is the book my mum read to me when my baby sister was on the way!
Talk about it
I’ve been spending time with my daughter looking back at photos of her when she was a baby and when I was pregnant with her. She now thinks that every baby picture is a picture of her but we’ve been able to have good conversations about how the baby will be little and then it will grow.
Get ready together
Get your family involved! Toddlers love doing ‘jobs’ around the house so this is a great opportunity for them to feel like they are contributing. We have washed the baby clothes together and set things up in the new baby’s room. When we are looking at the clothes and bassinet I have been telling her, ‘these used to be yours when you were little, now you are bigger and the new baby can use them’. I took her along for one of my doctors appointments and we got to see the baby on the scan. Older children could draw pictures or write a letter to the baby.
Meeting the new baby
Meeting the new baby for the first time is an emotional experience. As parents we want things to go perfectly, we imagine our older child welcoming the baby and loving it from the start. We can set everything up to support this meeting but need to accept that it might not go to plan.
Some great suggestions I’ve heard (and will be implementing myself!):
- Have a gift from the new baby for the older sibling, this gives the older child a positive association with their new sibling and also gives them something to do while everyone is looking at the baby.
- Think about where you will be sitting when your older child comes in. Where will the baby be? Will they be meeting at home or at the hospital and who will bring them to the meeting?
Accept feelings and adjusting to the ‘new normal’
The biggest thing I have read is that some children may not like having a new sibling and that’s ok! Our job as parents is to hold space for and accept their feelings. It is a big change for everyone and some children will take longer to adjust than others.
Try and make some special time for each parent to spend with each child. Encourage your older child to be involved with caring for the baby and give them special jobs to do, this will help them feel included and valued.
I will let you know how things are going in a few months when the baby is here!