15 Tips to Prepare Siblings for the Baby’s Arrival – Bergen County, Northern, NJ
By Morrisa Drobnick, LCSW
The amount and time of preparation for a new baby depends upon whether your child likes to look forward to things or gets too impatient if told about things too soon. Do, however, start as soon as the child is able to recognize the pregnancy.
The following 15 tips are offered to help in the preparation of your child(ren) for this important event.
1. Present the new baby from a child’s point of view. Discuss that babies are cute, but they can also be a lot of trouble. They cry a lot, mess their diapers, spit up, and smell bad. They demand a lot of attention because they must be fed, bathed, diapered, etc. If and when the child feels left out or jealous, encourage him to go to you and talk about it. Let them know that you understand that it’s not easy to share.
2. If a move to a new room or bed is needed, do this as early as possible in the pregnancy, so the child has less reason to feel “shoved out” when the baby arrives.
3. Let the child share by participating in discussions of how the baby will be cared for, what things he will need, where he will sleep, etc. Let him help get things ready for the new baby. Include the child on shopping expeditions for baby. Whenever possible, let him pick out things for the baby.
4. Show the child picture books about new babies and, if possible, visit in a home that has an infant, so that he realizes this is not going to be an instant playmate.
5. Talk with the child about the advantages of either sex and the unpredictability of this, so he won’t have his heart set on one or the other.
6. Take the child along on at least one visit to the doctor’s office for a prenatal visit. Let him hear the baby’s heartbeat, for instance.
7. Tell the child about Mom and Dad’s going to the hospital in the middle of day or night, and that this is part of the unpredictability of a baby’s birth. He needs to know who will be caring for him at that time and during the remainder of the hospital stay.
8. Whenever possible, let children to visit Mom and the new baby while they are still in the hospital. Phoning frequently will also be a tremendous help.
9. It’s a good idea to have a present (a new doll is ideal) to give to your child when you bring the new baby home from the hospital.
10. When friends come to call, encourage them to include the older child in the excitement as well. Let the child show the baby off to the company if he likes to.
11. Allow even the youngest child to hold the baby. This can be done sitting on the floor with carpet or a blanket, in the middle of the bed, or in a large stuffed chair. Also, allow him to help to whatever extent he can – fetching diapers, bottle, etc.
12. Father can help a great deal by spending time with the older child first when he gets home from work.
13. Mothers, too, should remember to spend precious alone time with older child as often as possible.
14. Jealousy may be expressed indirectly by showing too much concern and affection for the baby, refusing to go to school, demanding Mom’s attention, exhibiting naughty behavior, not eating, not sleeping, or by loss of toilet training, etc. Or, it may be expressed quite openly by a preschooler’s physical attacks on the baby. For this reason, it is best never to leave them alone together!
15. Be careful not to impose on an older sibling by turning him into a constant babysitter or by giving him responsibilities concerning the baby that are beyond his capabilities.