Helping siblings adjust to a new baby

Asked October 3, 2017, 7:22 AM EDT

Do you have any tips or resources for parents to help a sibling adjust easily to a new baby?

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

Welcoming a new sibling can be a big transition for everyone in the family and can be especially tough on children. Here are some ideas to help prepare your child for their new sibling:

  • Talk about it. Talk about the new baby and what things will be like. "Your little brother will come home and live here with us. Here is where he will sleep. He will cry a lot in the beginning because that is how he tells us what he needs. When he gets bigger you will be able to play with him."
  • Get them involved: If possible, include your child in helping prepare for the baby before they arrive. Let them pick out special items for the baby or decorate the nursery.
  • Plan some special time. One of the hardest part of welcoming a new sibling can be sharing time with mom and dad. Try planning some special "Mommy/Daddy & Me time," where they can have your undivided attention at least for a little while. This will help them feel important and special, even if they have to share your attention.
  • Read books. You can also read books about new siblings like, "The New Baby" by Mercer Mayer, "Peter's Chair" by Ezra Jack Keates "There’s Going To Be a Baby, By John Burningham or Martha Doesn’t Share by Samantha Berger.
  • Be understanding. If your child struggles to adjust to their new sibling, be understanding. Remember that it’s a big adjustment and will take time and practice. They may regress, have more tantrums or outbursts than normal or be extra clingy—this is all normal. The best thing you can do is to be empathetic, instead of punishing your child. Reassure them with words, “It can be hard to share your time with Mommy, or share your toys. That makes you feel really sad. I understand. It’s ok to be sad.”
  • Show them love. Load your child up with lots of love and support to reassure them that they are loved and supported no matter what changes are taking place at home.

Check out some more information from Kid's Health, Mott's Children's Hospital, and Zero to Three