Preparing an Older Sibling

Congratulations on adding to your family!  A sibling is a blessing, but can come with it’s own challenges.  Like how to occupy the older kid when you’re wracked with morning sickness!  I have a friend who actually conditioned her body to feel nausea whenever she watched Finding Nemo because her older son watched it so much during her first trimester.

Good preparation prenatally and inclusion of the sibling postpartum can really smooth the transition

Here are some ideas…

  • Depending on age, read them books such as listed here
  • Have them go to prenatal appointments and/or classes (where appropriate)
  • See if your care provider can involve them, such as letting them press the button on the doppler and measuring your belly
  • Have them help you set up the baby’s room, the car seat, the co-sleeper, take out the baby clothes, etc.  Know also that this may trigger the older child to become upset and resist change.  Comfort them and let them know you still love them.
  • Have them help pack the hospital/birth center bag.  Let them choose a special toy for themselves to bring and maybe one for the baby too.
  • Especially if you plan to have them at the birth with you, show them a few birth videos if you think it would be appropriate and they would handle them well.  A great resource in my lending library is “I Watched My Brother Being Born” book and DVD for parents and kids.  You can check it out here.
  • Give them a realistic doll to change, dress, bathe, etc.  Put the doll in the infant car seat in the car
  • Show them pictures in books like A Child Is Born, which has photographs taken in the womb.  Have them see how the baby develops, explain the different parts and what they do like placenta, umbilical cord, etc.  Gauge how interested they are, you don’t have to force them
  • Take a sibling preparation class at a hospital, birthing center, or play class
  • Have them make a card and/or present to give to the new baby when he/she is born
  • Depending on age, have them help think of names for the baby
  • Show them pictures of them when they were a newborn
  • Practice patience:  If your child asks for something, say “in two minutes”, and then follow through.  This will help when the new baby comes and you can’t be everywhere at once!
  • After Baby is born include the sibling in basic baby tasks, like having them pour water on Baby’s tummy during  bath time, brushing Baby’s hair with a soft brush, getting diapers and burp cloths, etc.  This helps the older child to fee included and important.

If you have any other ideas on how to prepare an older sibling, please share them by posting a comment!

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