Tips for Introducing Your Child To Their New Sibling

Deciding how to introduce a new baby to a sibling is one of the most exciting—and nerve-wracking!—things you’ll do as a parent. You’ll want to be thoughtful about it… and be prepared for it to go differently than you expect. Family is a verb®. It’s all about going with the flow. Still, it’s good to be prepared for that important introduction and helping older siblings cope with the new baby.

Before the Baby Arrives

To make this introduction as smooth and joyful as possible, Prince Lionheart put together this list of tips to help you prepare, while helping your older kid feel involved and excited about the new baby.

  1. Get ready together. Start preparing before the new baby comes by making the process exciting for your older kid. Get books about becoming an older sibling, talk about what it’ll be like when the new baby arrives, and answer any questions your older child has. But be honest! Explain that the baby won’t be able to play at first, and they will sleep, cry, and eat most of the time. Reassure your older kid that, even though the new baby will require a lot of time, you’ll still have plenty of time for them.
  2. Reminisce together. Tell your older child stories about their babyhood and look through their baby pictures to give them an idea of what to expect. Talk about what it was like to have a new baby in your home when they were tiny and what parts you’re excited to share with them.
  3. Make it real. Younger kids might have a hard time wrapping their heads around the idea of a new baby. It can be exciting and distressing for older kids, too. Let your child help get your home prepared for the new baby. Bring them to prenatal appointments to see ultrasound photos and hear the heartbeat. If possible, encourage your child to talk to the baby in utero, so they feel any reactions and begin to recognize that the baby will be a real person. Enrolling in a sibling class can also help your older kid learn about becoming an older sibling.
  4. Make changes before the baby arrives. Make sure any major changes—like changing your older child’s room, getting them potty trained, or transitioning out of a crib or a car seat—are taken care of well before the new baby arrives. This way, your older child doesn’t associate these changes (and any unpleasant feelings) with the baby.
  5. Have a plan for baby time. Have someone on deck to care for your older child when the new baby comes. Choose someone you trust and someone your older child loves—a grandparent, aunt or uncle, close friend, or beloved babysitter—who can come over at a moment’s notice and care for your older kid as long as necessary. Play it up as a fun event, but ask the designated caretaker to maintain your older child’s routine while you’re gone to keep things as normal as possible.

How to Introduce A New Baby to A Sibling

Your new baby is here, and it’s time for the big introduction and helping older siblings cope with the new baby. If you haven’t figured out how to introduce your new baby to their sibling, don’t worry. You can do this. Bravery is inside us all.®

  1. Give your older child attention. Plan for the person caring for your older child to bring them to the hospital or birth center once the baby arrives. Then, ease your big kid in by giving them plenty of attention. Ask someone else to hold the new baby right away so you can snuggle your older kid and tell them how much you missed them. Then, introduce the baby to their older sibling. Don’t be alarmed if your older child is standoffish when they see you and the new baby, though. This is a big adjustment. They’ll need time for it to all sink in.
  2. Expect plenty of emotions and be patient. All kinds of emotions can rush in for you and your older child after the introduction—the good, the bad, and sometimes even the ugly. You might see regression from your older kid and can expect a few extra tantrums. Getting emotional is perfectly normal. Try to be patient and reassuring, and give everyone time to adjust. Some older kids will want to get involved, while others would rather ignore the new baby. Helping older siblings cope with the new baby also means not forcing it. If your older child doesn’t want to hold or hug the new baby, that’s okay. They’ll warm up in their own time, so let it happen naturally.
  3. Make it a celebration. Celebrate your older child becoming an older sibling! Mark the occasion with a small family party, going somewhere special, or giving your big kid a gift from the new baby. When people come to visit the baby, ask them to celebrate your older child first. That way, your older kid feels special, too, and is less likely to resent the new baby for taking attention away from them.
  4. Encourage your older child to help (if they want). Depending on your older kid’s age, they can hold or burp the baby, and they can bring you baby supplies to be more involved. If they’re too young to help much - or want more involvement - give your older child a baby doll. It will allow them to do what you do. They can be feeding, changing, and snuggling their baby doll while you care for the new baby.
  5. Create special time. The biggest adjustment is rarely the crying or other things that come with a new baby—it’s sharing attention. Give your big kid what they need by setting aside  special time every day just for the two of you. Just 10-20 minutes of dedicated time makes a big difference. Let your older child decide what you’ll do together during this time. Emphasize how much you enjoy spending that time with them.

Helping older siblings cope with the new baby and figuring out how to introduce the new baby to siblings can feel overwhelming. Stay positive and take it one tip at a time. You got this!