Siblings and a new baby
The best preparation for introducing a new baby brother or sister will begin during your pregnancy. If your older child is moving rooms, or other routines are shifting because of baby’s arrival, try to do this months before the birth so there is time for your older children to feel comfortable with the changes before baby arrives, rather than feeling like life is changing suddenly because of the baby. Talk to them in detail about what will happen in the first few weeks of bringing baby home, for example, much of your attention will be given to this latest addition but you still have just as much love for them. Explain that the pie got bigger rather than the new baby eating into your older child or children’s slice of love.
After the birth of your baby, and once you’ve met your new baby face-to-face, your new baby’s sibling(s) will be eager to meet their baby brother or baby sister. Just how you introduce your newborn to their new baby brother or sister for the first time is important to ensure minimal jealousy and uncertainty for your older child or children.
To minimise sibling rivalry, present the older sibling(s) with a special present from the baby that you have stored in your hospital bag. This will send the message that your older child or children are important. Watching so many visitors coming and going – all with presents for the new baby – can make your older kid(s) feel less left out. Present it with lots of kisses and cuddles, along with a reminder that this present is from the baby. Next, ask get them to present the gift they chose for the baby. It’s a good idea to have shopped for this together in the lead-up to the birth. Let the children help choose a cuddly soft toy, special baby blanket or cute new outfit for their newest sibling, complete with wrapping paper and a card that can be bought or home-made. Don’t forget to pack it in the bag you bring to the hospital or entrust a close relative or friend to be responsible for bringing it in when they bring the older children in to visit you and your baby for the first time.
Most parents of older children report few problems with sibling jealousy, but toddlers who are too young to understand that your love grows with each new baby may greet baby with suspicion, rather than instant love. Be patient – it will, hopefully, change. It is wise to never leave a baby unattended with older children (especially toddlers) in the first few months, just in case tempers do fray.
- Best baby gifts
- You and your baby after birth
- Post-pregnancy exercise
- Postnatal depression
- New mothers support groups
- Find your birth group
- Meet mums in your local area on Kidspot Social
- Understanding sibling rivalry
This article was written by Claire Halliday for Australia’s leading pregnancy resource, Kidspot.