Having a newborn is tough enough in its own right. Getting older siblings to understand their new role in the family can be even tougher. Many parents cannot wait to tell their children that they will be having a new baby brother or sister, while other parents tend to wait until they can no longer hide it. Here are a few tips to help get your children ready to welcome their new sibling into your home.
Children Under Two Years Old
If your child is still in their pre- or early-cognition months, they likely will not understand when you explain that there is a new baby growing inside of mommy. You should allow your child to lead the conversation about the new baby. If they ask any questions, try to answer them in words they might understand. Take some time to show your child pictures from when they were first born, and make sure that they understand that their new sibling is very fragile, just like they still are.
Children Between Two and Four Years Old
This age group can be the toughest to break the news to. At this age, your child may have no desire to share their mommy with a “stranger,” and may feel threatened. To assuage their fears, start by being honest. Let them know about the fun things that babies do, but do not shy away from telling them about the less desirable things: crying and the need for constant attention. Get your child involved in planning for the new baby’s arrival. While your newborn will need a lot of attention, it is important to still give attention to the older sibling. Make sure to schedule some time to spend with just them, so that they do not feel left out.
Children Five Years and Older
At this age, children are more understanding of what kind of commitment a new baby requires, but they may still feel some anxiety about not getting as much attention. To reduce any emotional hardship they may be facing, get them involved with as many aspects of caring for the baby as you feel they are ready for. Make sure to emphasize that they will need to look out for their new sibling and set a good example for them.
Having children is no walk in the park. With all of the resources available it can be difficult to understand exactly what to do. If you find yourself in need of help, be sure to check out our Newborn Course.
Welcoming a newborn sibling