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Preparing your child for a new baby

preparing your child for a new baby
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Even if your child has been nagging you for months for a new brother or sister, and is super-excited at your news, you still need to be preparing your child for a new baby in the family – it probably won’t be what they expect.

Awkward questions

You might find they have lots of questions about how the baby got into Mummy’s tummy – and how it will come out. Depending on the age of your child you might want to explain the birds and the bees, or you could use age-appropriate books to deal with the ‘ins and outs’ (ahem).

Books are useful, too, for helping your child understand their new role as a big brother or sister – from sharing your attention, to playing gently with a newborn and how to take care of babies. Toys can also help develop children’s understanding and allow them to ‘play Mummies and Daddies’ – so consider giving them a ‘baby’ of their own and showing them how you’ll care for the real baby once it arrives.

Get them excited

Some children might not like the idea of a sibling at all, so why not try to get them excited by finding ways for them to share the experience with you? Can they come along to a scan and ‘see’ the baby? Or you could encourage them to talk to the baby, and kiss your tummy ‘goodnight’, for instance. Spending time with other families who have babies, and explaining that your child’s friends are already big brothers and sisters, might help them come around to the idea.preparing your child for a new baby

And for the ultimate in sibling bonding, you could let your child help pick out a name for the baby – with the emphasis on ‘help’, though, unless you really want to introduce your family and friends to baby Peppa or Roary!

Changes ahead

Having a new baby around – and suddenly having to share Mum and Dad – is a huge change. You should expect some backsliding in their development, or an increase in ‘babyish’ behaviour, as they vie for your attention. So if you’re thinking about starting potty training or weaning your older child off their dummy, consider delaying this until after the baby’s born and you’ve all settled into your new roles, otherwise you could be wasting your time and efforts right now. If you need to move your son or daughter out of the cot, or into a new bedroom, to make way for the new arrival, then it’s worth trying to do this well in advance of the birth, so it’s all done and dusted, and won’t  feel to your child like they’re being ousted by the new ‘rival’.

Make them feel special too

When the baby does come, make sure you make a fuss of the new ‘big bro’ or ‘big sis’ too – let them pick out a toy for the baby, and give them a present ‘from the baby’. Other people will often bring a present for your older child when they visit for the first time to see the newborn, which helps.

preparing your child for a new baby

And make sure you arrange some outings or treats with Dad while Mum’s in hospital, and some special time with Mummy (without the baby) when you’re ready. That will soften the ‘blow’ of having to share their parents and reassure them that, although the new baby needs lots of looking after, they can still get some one-to-one time with you. And you want them to know that they’re still very special.

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About Alison McKay

About Alison McKay

Alison McKay is a charity PR professional with over 15 years' experience in full-time, part-time and jobshare roles. Since being made redundant while on maternity leave, she has divided her time between working for a local museum, freelance and volunteer writing, and being chief wrangler to a two-year-old mud-magnet and an almost-seven-year-old wannabe dog-care worker with a penchant for hair accessories. Alison's hobbies include yoga, reading cookery books and putting away just enough clean laundry to keep the pile below 3ft tall.

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