A new baby in the family – how to prepare the first born for a baby brother or sister


Hi, I am three years old. Mommy and daddy give me a lot of attention. They play with me and we have nice long talks. When it is bathtime, I may sometimes play extra long in the water. When we go shopping, sometimes I get treated with a new toy or some sweeties. All the toys in our house belong to me. When we visit friends everyone comments on how much I have grown and how cute I am. Now mommy is expecting a baby. What I don’t get, is where does babies come from anyway? Everyone tells me something different, and I don’t believe anyone anymore. And I am scared! Will mommy and daddy still love me? Who is going to play with me, I hear babies take a lot a of mommy’s time. I adore my toys, what if the new baby takes it and breaks it? I am not so sure about this whole new baby thing...

Having a new baby doesn’t have to be a traumatic event in a first born’s life. Here are a few guidlines to make it easier for your child:

During pregnancy

Once you find out that you are expecting, tell it to her. Give her regularly the opportunity to ask questions and answer it with patience on a level that she can understand. There are books available that explain pregnancy and having a new baby on a child’s level.

Always be honest about what she can expect when the baby is born. Sometimes it will be fun, but other times the baby is going to cry and going to need a lot of mommy’s attention.

  • Look through some of her baby photos, laugh and talk about the things she did when she was smaller.
  • When you visit the doctor, take her along to hear the baby’s heartbeat. This is as much a special experience for her as it is for you.
  • Involve her when you discuss a name for the baby. Make it a fun activity for her.
  • Involve her when you get the baby’s room ready. Try to avoid a move to another room, but if it is necessary explain to her why this needs to happen.

When baby is born

  • To start the relationship on a high note, give her a present the first time she visit you and the baby in the hospital.
  • Take a photo of her with you to hospital and put it on the table next to your hospital bed. She will feel special when she visits you and you have a photo of her there.
  • To give her a sense of control: when she visits you at the hospital for the first time, let her and daddy bring you the baby from the nursery.

When baby comes home

  • Allow her to show the baby your house.
  • Buy her a baby-doll which she can feed and clean the diaper. This will help her to cope with the change and to copy mommy’s behaviour will let her feel in control.
  • Involve her with caring for the baby. Ask her what she thinks baby should wear. When old enough let her help you with bath-time, etc.
  • Make time to give her undivided attention even if you must ask grandma to babysit for a little while.
  • There should still be clear boundaries. She might feel unsure what is acceptable with the baby at home. She might also test the boundaries to see what you are going to allow.
  • Be patient and give het lots of love.
  • Try to persuade family and friends to first greet and talk to your elder child when visiting and then they can coo over the baby or let she show her new baby brother or sister to them.
  • She might show some signs of regression like drinking from a bottle again or wet herself. This is her way of handling the changes. Some children become jealous or even aggressive. If you are worried about her behaviour, rather make an appointment at a play therapist to help her to adjust to the changes and deal with her emotions.

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