Getting Ready to Become a Big Brother or Big Sister

Blog_Preparing for new sibling

Preparing your child for a new sibling? It can be both exciting and scary to think of expanding your family.

While you are busy preparing the necessities of diapers, wipes and bottles, it’s important to also prepare your child to become a big brother or big sister.

Why? Because their (and your) whole world is about to change!

I remember when we found out we were pregnant with Baby #2.

My initial reaction was a mix of feelings: joy, anxiety, gratitude, fear. And questions such as, “How am I going to love this new child as much as I love his brother?” or “What can we do to get our son ready to be a big brother?”

Well, we’ve learned a few things along the way as we welcomed the second sibling and then the third.

We learned our hearts were capable of lots of love and with each child that has entered our family, our hearts have only gotten bigger and fuller. So fear not! You will love your new child just as much as your first (or second or third!).

And we learned there are things we could do to help our older kids get ready to welcome a new sidekick.

How to Prepare Your Child to Become a Big Brother or Big Sister

Below are a few tips that helped us make the transition as we expanded our family. Try a few of these…the transition for all will be a little easier when the baby arrives.

Tip #1: This is ‘Our’ Baby

Whether you have one child or many, a new baby in the family can rock their world. Talking to your child about the baby being ‘ours’ can make them feel included in this exciting time in your lives.

One way to do this is to let your child shop with you for the new baby. Have him/her pick out a special outfit or toy for the baby.

Show your child his/her baby pictures. Explain that they were also a baby once and welcoming a new child is one of God’s greatest miracles.

Explain that the baby won’t be able to play when he/she comes home. They will mostly cry, eat and need their diaper changed.

Create a special nook for your older child and the baby. Perhaps a nook complete with books and baby toys would be a great start.  

Keep in mind if your older child is a toddler, you’ll need to be careful about leaving the baby alone with him/her. Toddlers often want to ‘help,’ but they may not understand covering the baby with a blanket (over his face!) isn’t okay. 

Tip #2: Read Books About Becoming a Big Sibling

By now you know we love books! So we searched for the perfect book to get our child excited about becoming a big sibling. But we couldn’t find just the right one… so we created our own!

Every Hero Needs a Sidekick is the story of your little superhero (the big sibling) getting ready to welcome a new sidekick (the baby) into the family.

We really wanted to focus on getting the big brother or big sister EXCITED! By casting the child as a superhero and giving them ‘superpowers,’ we did just that.

In true MarbleSpark fashion the book is personalized meaning you can create the superhero to look like your child plus include a personal dedication.  

Another fun idea is to gift the book with a superhero cape. Your child will love zooming around the house as a superhero!

Tip #3: Time Major Changes Prior to Welcoming Baby

When we found out we were expecting our second son, we knew we’d need our firstborn’s crib for the baby. Actually we’d need the whole nursery!

We timed our firstborn’s move into a ‘big boy bed’ two to three months before the baby was due. The key was not telling our son he was moving out so the baby could move in.

Instead we made a big deal out of him moving into a new room and told him he was growing up. We let him help pick out his new bedding and a few other knick knacks for the room.

The same was true for toilet training. Our children were 2.5 years old when a new sibling entered our family. We didn’t push the toilet training until after the baby arrived. We were told the child might regress. For us, this worked well because once they saw the baby wearing diapers they wanted to be ‘big boys’ and not wear diapers!

Tip #4: Promote Him/Her to Big Sibling Baby Helper

In those first few months, the baby is going to take up a lot of your attention. Attention you once were able to give to your older child.

Make him/her an official Big Bro/Big Sis Baby Helper! Get creative in how you ‘promote’ your child to this role. You could have them dress up in a superhero cape or make a special badge.

By including him/her in helping with the baby, you can still be attentive to them and they will feel special about being a helper. Your child can fetch diapers, wipes, blankets, clothes, etc. Perhaps a glass of water for mom?

Not to mention as the baby gets a bit older assist with keeping the baby entertained. Your older child will love to make the baby smile and coo. He/she can also ‘pretend’ to read books to the baby by showing picture books and making up stories as they go.  

We included both of our older sons in helping with the new baby. They were proud to do so and we were thankful for the help!

Tip #5: Routine, Routine, Routine!

I can’t stress this enough. Try not to deviate as much as possible from your child’s normal routine when the baby arrives. This advice was given to us from our pediatrician and proved to be spot on.

Your child needs to feel safe and secure. Keep to their normal naptimes and mealtimes. If you have a special bedtime ritual such as reading a book and singing a song, continue this. Even if it means you are feeding your baby while you read/sing to your child.

Our pediatrician warned us our older child would likely act out to some degree when the baby arrived. It is easy to want to give in or coddle your firstborn more than usual because you might feel guilt for not being able to spend as much time with him/her.

Don’t give in!

It might be easier to do so in the short-term, but there will be long-term consequences. It always amazed us how quickly our kids remembered if we gave in to something they wanted. They definitely thought they’d get it again next time. It was a hard lesson for all of us to learn.

What’s Most Important in Preparing Your Child For a New Sibling?

Showing your love. Ultimately, your child just wants to know mom and dad still love him/her.

Depending on the age(s) of your older child(ren), welcoming a new baby can be a shock. Especially if you only have one child and he/she has always had your full attention.

We know you’ll be sleep deprived. And lacking in energy. But you can show your love in a multitude of ways…cuddling up and reading a story, playing a game or just listening with your undivided attention.

Congratulations on expanding your family. We hope you can use a few of these tips to prepare your child to become a big brother or big sister!

 

 

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