Sibling jealousy is a real issue for many families, especially when a new baby is on the way. Older siblings may be excited about the arrival of a new baby—or they may be dreading it and acting out to get your attention. When you add in your own stress over the arrival of a baby, it can be very difficult to prepare your older child for the arrival of their new siblings.
It is important to include your older child in age and developmentally appropriate ways both before and after the baby is born. Here are a few suggestions that will help prepare your young child for the birth of their new sibling.
1. Tell your child in simple terms that you have a baby in your belly who will become a part of the family. Show photographs to your child of yourself when you were pregnant with him or her and when they were born. This will help your toddler or young child understand will happen with your growing belly and when the baby is born. Talk about how you prepared for their arrival and any positive emotions you may have had regarding the pregnancy.
2. Let them pick out some outfits or toys for their sibling. If you will be using the same clothes or some toys that used to fit or belong to your older child, let them know first. Explain that these will now be for the new baby. If they have a bad reaction, ask them if they would like to keep one outfit for themselves as a keepsake or for them to help you organize the baby’s closet.
3. If you are going to move your child to a different room or crib, do it months before your baby is born. This will give him or her enough time to adjust to all of the changes.
4. Reassure them that your heart is big enough to love them and their sibling. This is crucial! Many times, when young children act out when their sibling is born, it is because they feel like they are no longer loved. Toddlers have a very black and white mentality when it comes to feeling loved, so it is normal for them to feel like they have been substituted. Let them know you have so much love for them and for their sibling and that nothing will take that away.
5. Buy a little toy from the baby to your older child as a welcome gift.
6. If you will be giving birth at a hospital or birthing center, let them know where you will be, who will stay with him or her, and that when you return, the baby will be coming home with you to meet the family.
- Show your child pictures of you when you were pregnant with him or her and what they looked like when they were born so they know what to expect when a younger sibling arrives.
- Include them in the planning process, like choosing a new toy or outfit for the baby.
- Reassure your child constantly that you have so much love for him or her and the new baby.