Awaiting the arrival of a new baby is often super exciting for the family but it can also be a time of stressful transition for children.
This can be amplified if they don’t currently have siblings.
But don’t worry you can ease this by carefully preparing your little one for the arrival of their sibling as well as planning to support them after. In this guide, we cover everything you need to know.
Let’s jump straight in!
Preparing your little one for the arrival of your new baby
First of all, it’s important to chat with your little one about getting a new brother or sister so that they are ready for the change. Be sure to answer any questions they have honestly.
It often helps to read storybooks about this (we’ve linked recommendations below), and then discuss what happened as well as the character’s feelings.
Next, try to make your child feels included in the process and encourage excitement – show them baby scans, let them help get things ready for the baby, let them talk to the bump etc.
But whilst you’re doing this, reassure them that they were equally anticipated and loved.
You can ask your little one how they would like to help with the baby and emphasise the importance of the role of a big brother or sister.
It’s also a good idea to plan ahead of time for any big changes in routines e.g. if they have to change where they’ll be sleeping. Do so a few months before and after the birth so that your little one doesn’t experience too much change all at once.
Finally, don’t forget to prepare your little one for what will happen when you or your partner go into labour.
Explain who will be looking after them, it’s also worth preparing an overnight bag for them when you prepare your hospital bag, get them involved in this process as well where possible.
How your child might respond
It’s important to be aware of your little one’s emotions both before and after the baby arrives as they may need additional support.
Their reaction can differ depending on your child’s age but commonly include:
Feelings of jealousy and resentment towards the new baby even before they’re born.
Showing mixed emotions by regressing to behaviours like tantrums, sleepless nights and wetting the bed.
Worrying about how the new baby will affect them within the family dynamic – this can lead them to becoming upset, clingy, and more demanding.
Remember that it’s totally natural for your little one to behave in these ways and that does not mean they’ll never love the baby.
Respond to these behaviours with patience and understanding, allow your little one to feel their feelings, reassure them with cuddles and remind them that they are and will always be loved.
After the birth
Although it’s going to most likely be a much more hectic time at home, it’s still important to be aware of your now older child’s feelings and to put some additional effort into making sure they feel reassured and loved.
You can do this by:
Making an additional effort to give them extra praise and cuddles, giving them attention as often as possible. They will need reassurance that they are still loved.
Trying to stick to a normal routine.
Buying a small gift to give to them from the baby.
Including your child in the new baby’s care.
Chatting about how delicate the new baby is and how to carefully hold and care for them.
Not making everything about the new baby but chatting with your little one about their day at nursery, a TV show they’ve recently watched or about plans you have for the weekend.