Stressors & Children: Preparing for a New Sibling

Preparing for the birth of a new sibling can bring about mixed feelings for parents as they consider how to help their older children with this transition.   Parents often feel excited to welcome a new child into the family, but also nervous about how older siblings will respond and adjust.     The adjustment of my oldest child was definitely one of my concerns as my family prepared for the birth our second child.     It’s normal to have some anxiety about this transition and I hope this post will help address some of your concerns and lessen your anxiety.

There are many factors that affect how a child adjusts to a new sibling, but after reading this post you will have some great ideas to ensure that this transition goes as smoothly as possible for your family.  

I am keeping things really simple because I know parents receive a ton of information when they are expecting a baby.   There are only TWO really helpful tips in this post.   These tips are followed by reflection questions that will help you consider how to implement the tips for your family and each individual child.

Two Tips to Help Your Child Prepare for the Birth of a New Sibling

  1. Discuss pregnancy in a way that your child understands. Consider the following:
    • Your child’s age
    • Your child’s ability to comprehend the concepts you want to share about pregnancy
    • Your child’s interest in the subject. Follow your child’s lead in determining how much and how often to discuss the pregnancy.
  2. Help your children understand what to expect when their new sibling is born.
    • Show your children their baby pictures and share memories of them as infants.
    • Spend time with family members or friends who have infants.
    • Attend a sibling birth class.
    • When appropriate, involve older children in creating plans for their care during the birth of their new sibling. If it is not appropriate to include children in the planning, make sure they understand the plans for their care.
    • Keep routines as consistent as possible before and after the new sibling arrives. But, also be forgiving of yourself and your child when the routine needs to be altered.

Reflection Questions for Parents

Every family and every child is different!   These reflection questions will help you consider how to best apply the above tips with your family.    Don’t forget to consider tailoring your plans to each individual child.

  • Historically, how has your child best received information? Is it through conversation, reading a book, watching a movie/show, doing an activity or something else?
  • Consider how your child typically adjusts to transition/change. Historically, what is the best timing for sharing information with your child?   Does your child do best with little information or a lot of detailed information?
  • What ways are your children most comfortable expressing and processing their emotions? What tools would you like to have on hand to help your child identify, share and cope with their emotions about having a new sibling?  Consider checking out these previous posts for more information:
  • If others will be caring for your children during the birth of their new sibling, what type of information do they need to know about your child’s routines and how to best comfort your child?
  • What types of activities can keep your older children occupied when you need undivided attention to tend to your infant? Consider brainstorming a list with your older children before the birth of their new sibling.
  • How can you create special times to spend 1-on-1 with your older children during your pregnancy and after the birth of their younger sibling? Include your older children this discussion.

It’s normal to be somewhat concerned about helping your older children adjust to having a new sibling, but I hope this post helped you make some plans and relieved some of your anxiety about this transition.

Check back soon for another post, focused on you!   As our families grow, children are not the only ones who experience adjustments.  Parents do, too.   In an upcoming post, I will be sharing tips to help parents adjust to parenting two (or more) children!

If you are looking for some extra support to help your family prepare and adjust to the addition of a new sibling, I may be able to help.   I offer counseling services for parents,  children and families in Eagan, Minnesota.  In addition, consider checking out my workshop schedule to see if any of my upcoming offerings may fit your needs.

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