Today is National Siblings Day, which is a day to celebrate all of the wonderful sisters and brothers in our lives. As a parent, you know sometimes sibling relationships can be less than perfect. For instance, many children react differently when you tell them they will soon have a younger sibling join the family. While welcoming a new baby into your family is an exciting time, it can have a huge impact on the the family dynamic in your household. The addition of a new family member can be hard for some children to process, so our team at MD Moms has compiled some tips for you on how to help your child welcome a new baby and encourage a healthy sibling bond.
- Make sure your child is one of the first people to know about your pregnancy. This way, they won’t have to unexpectedly hear it from someone else.
- If you have young children, share with them a realistic idea of what the baby will be like after it’s born. Explain to them that the baby may not be able to play right away, but they can cuddle and hold the baby gently.
- If your child is really young, they may not comprehend what having a new baby will mean for the future. Remind your child that there is a baby growing in your stomach and let them feel the baby kick, or take them to a doctor’s appointment to hear the baby’s heartbeat.
- Make changes around the house slowly, but try to do them at least a couple of weeks before the baby arrives. If you’re picking out new furniture or moving rooms around for the baby, make sure you include your child in these decisions. The small, gradual changes will help maintain regularity around the house and help avoid the feeling of replacement or attention deprivation
- Read age-appropriate books about childbirth together and watch shows with positive sibling relationships to help your child better understand their relationship to the new baby.
- Take your child to visit friends who have babies, so they can see what it will be like to interact with the baby. You can also give them a doll to practice holding and caring for their new sibling.
- Discuss the plans with your child for when you’re in the hospital. If you choose to have your child be present at the hospital during birth, have someone there whose sole responsibility is to keep an eye on and comfort your child. You can also check to see if your hospital offers sibling prep classes for your younger children.
- After your new baby arrives, include your child in as many daily activities as possible when caring for their new sibling. This can include helping to bathe, changing the baby’s clothes, talking to or entertaining the baby during a diaper change. Try to keep as normal of a routine as possible.
- Set aside one-on-one time with your child every day, even if it’s for 15 minutes while the baby is napping. Take this time to encourage your child to discuss their feelings about their new sibling openly and give them the attention they may be missing.
- Don’t force your child to interact with the baby if they don’t seem interested. Remember that this is an adjustment period for them and it usually takes about 3 to 6 months for children to accept a new baby sibling.
With a little preparation, the transition of welcoming a new baby into your home can be a lot easier on you and your children. As your older child adjusts, make sure to comfort and reassure them, and motivate them to be a proud older sister or brother!