How to prepare your child to be a big brother or sister

When you’re pregnant with your second child, you probably feel a lot more confident this time around. You’ve done it all before, you know exactly what to expect and which mistakes to avoid, and you’re ready for anything life throws at you.

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But there is one crucial difference this time, as you now have a small person in your life. Your eldest child is soon to be a big brother or sister, and this will be huge news for them. Depending on how old they are, they may not even be able to fully comprehend what this means. And they could react in any number of ways. They could be ecstatic about having a little sibling to look after, or they might be jealous that they’ll no longer be getting all the attention. They might be angry about having to share a room or a double stroller with this new intruder, and they may even act out as a result.

You need to be careful about how you share the news with their child, and help them understand what these changes mean for them and for your family as a whole. Here are a few useful tips to help you with this task.

Be positive

For many children, the prospect of a new brother or sister is incredibly exciting. They will have a new best friend to play with all the time, who they can look after and teach about the ways of the world. If your child is excited then half the work is already done for you, but they are a little more hesitant then you may need to sell them the positives.

Be honest

As a parent, you of course want your children to get along. There is nothing better than a harmonious household, but that doesn’t mean you should sugarcoat the news. It will be tempting to only tell your firstborn all the positives about their imminent younger sibling, but this just sets expectations too high, and there will inevitably be disappointment. Be honest with your eldest child and explain that babies are a lot of work. There will be tears, mess, and a lot of changes to their schedule.

Make time for your firstborn

Your new baby will take up a great deal of your time and energy, but you should be careful not to let your firstborn feel left out. Young children can be remarkably sensitive and they may be upset at the sudden lack of attention they are receiving. Try to involve them in the parenting process by letting them pick toys or helping you out with errands.

Minimise disruption

When a new child enters the house, routine and order are often the first things to fall by the wayside. But for the sake of your firstborn, try to minimise this disruption as best as you can. This will help them retain some semblance of normality and prevent them feeling like their lives have been turned upside down. Keep their bedtime routine sacred, as a sleep-deprived child is the last thing you need when you have a newborn infant to care for. 

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