How to Introduce a New Sibling

Introducing your firstborn to a new sibling can be tricky business. It is common for children to feel displaced by this new arrival, and so it is up to you to make sure the transition from only child to older sibling goes smoothly.

Making the Announcement
When should you tell a child that a new brother or sister is arriving? For a very young child, make sure you don't tell him too soon. Keep in mind that a few months is a really long time when you're only two years old. It is best to wait until toward the end of the pregnancy, when your child is able to see the changes that are happening. Older children can be told earlier, but this varies according to the maturity level of your child.

Involve Your Child
There are a few things you can do to prepare your child for the new arrival. Let her come to your prenatal appointments to hear the baby's heartbeat. Place her hand on your tummy so she can feel the baby kicking. If you know the gender and have picked out a name, you can refer to the baby by name, which will help the new sibling feel more real to your child. It is also helpful to allow her to participate in the baby preparations. Let her pick out a special toy for the baby, or even choose an outfit or two for her new sibling. 

When the big day arrives, and it's time to introduce your children to each other, be sure to remember that this can be a difficult time for your older child. When you bring your firstborn in to meet his brother or sister, it is helpful if someone else is holding the baby, so that you are free to hug your child, letting him know that he still has a place in your arms. You can then make the introductions, but if your child seems reluctant, don't push.  Some children will be very eager to hold and kiss the new baby, while others may not want anything to do with the baby just yet.

Adjusting to New Routines
It can take some time for your older child to adjust to life with the new baby. Keep in mind that she is used to having you to herself, and now suddenly she has to share you with the new baby. You can ease the sting of this by involving your child in the baby's care as much as possible. There are plenty of small tasks that even a very young child can handle: she can fetch you a clean diaper, put lotion on the baby's feet after bath time or help sing the baby a lullaby. While nursing the new little one, read a story or talk with your older child, so she doesn't feel left out.

Finally, make sure you allow as much one-on-one time with your "big kid" as possible. Make a little time each day while the baby is sleeping, or if someone else is available to hold the baby for a little while. It is essential that your child feels secure in the knowledge that you have enough love for both of your babies.

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