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How to Introduce a Baby to a Big Brother or Big Sister

Updated on June 14, 2016
ThePracticalMommy profile image

Marissa is a writer and a stay-at-home mom to four. She has experienced 4 c-section births and wants to share her knowledge and experience.

Introducing Baby to Older Siblings

Introducing a little sister to her big brother.
Introducing a little sister to her big brother. | Source

Preparing a Child for a New Baby

While adding a new baby to your family may not be difficult for you, it can be a difficult change for your older child. He or she has been the focus of your attention for a while, and when a newborn is brought home, some of that attention will need to be diverted to the baby, which is something your older child may not understand.

By starting to prepare your child during your pregnancy, you can slowly introduce some of the changes that will occur when you bring the new baby home. Learn how you can prepare older siblings and how you can introduce your new baby to his big brother or sister.

A Toddler and a New Baby

My toddler son holding my baby daughter.
My toddler son holding my baby daughter. | Source

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Preparing a Toddler for a New Baby

Most children are toddlers between the ages of 1-3 when they become older siblings for the first time. They are just getting used to their new independence they discovered when they begin to walk, talk, eat on their own, and play on their own, but they are still rather attached to the parents and often crave the attention of their parents.

A new baby in the family can be a huge change for a toddler who is used to all of the attention. Here's how you can prepare your toddler for a new baby brother or sister:

  • Start talking to your toddler about the new baby once you are in your second trimester or are showing. It is wise to wait until your second trimester to begin talking to your toddler about the new baby since you'll be past the danger of a miscarriage. It might even be best to wait until your belly bump grows to give a more tangible idea of the new baby since it could be hard for a toddler to understand the concept of pregnancy. Simple mentions of the baby should be enough at this point, especially for younger toddlers who may not have the vocabulary to react. Each mention of the new baby, however, will serve as a basis for introducing the new baby once he or she is born later on.
  • Talk to your toddler about being a big brother or big sister. Toddlers like to hear about how 'big' they are growing, so it's a great idea to mention how your toddler will be a big brother or big sister who will need to help Mommy and Daddy with the new baby.
  • Read big brother or big sister books. Even better, you can read a book or two to your toddler a few times a week about being a big brother or big sister. This helped me when I was talking to my then toddler son about becoming a big brother for the first time since he loved to read books and he could see the pictures corresponding with the words.
  • Bring out the baby gear a bit early. Since bringing a new baby home will involve changing the layout of the rooms in your home to make room for baby gear, you may want to begin this process early to help your toddler become used to the things necessary to take care of the baby.
  • 'Practice' taking care of a baby. Using a small doll, demonstrate to your toddler often of how you may take care of the baby and how he or she could take care of the baby. Hold the doll in a cradle position and gently rock back and forth. Sing lullabies. Mention how the doll's head is delicate and how you need to be gentle to the doll. Speak in a quiet voice when you hold the doll. Hold the doll in one arm as you hold your toddler in the other. Doing all of this a few times with your toddler will help reinforce how he or she will need to behave around the new baby.

You may also find that once the baby comes, you'll need to talk about sharing quite often, which includes sharing of toys along with sharing of the parents' attention. While your toddler doesn't need to give up toys or your attention, he or she needs to know that there will be times when the new baby is interested in a toy or needs the attention of the parents.

Books for Older Siblings

Practice Taking Care of Baby

Use a baby doll and practice taking care of the baby.
Use a baby doll and practice taking care of the baby. | Source

Big Brother

Your preschooler may have been your only child for a few years. Is he or she ready to have a baby in the house?
Your preschooler may have been your only child for a few years. Is he or she ready to have a baby in the house? | Source

Preparing a Preschooler for a New Baby

While older children may have an easier time understanding the concept of a new baby in the house, you should still take the time and steps to prepare them for how their lives will change because of the new baby. Unlike toddlers, preschoolers usually have a better grasp of the vocabulary necessary to understand what is going on and to voice any questions or concerns they might have.

Here is what you can do to prepare your preschooler for a new baby:

  • Have an honest talk about the new baby. Once you feel comfortable telling your child about your pregnancy, sit down and have an honest talk with him or her. Explain how he or she is going to be an older sibling and how you may need their help from time to time with the new baby. Also explain that as an older sibling, he or she will need to be a good example for the new baby. It may help to mention how you may not always be able to pay immediate attention to him or her since you'll need to but that you will make an effort to just to spend quality one-on-one time with him or her.
  • Be open to any questions or concerns from your preschooler. A preschooler may have some questions about how or why this pregnancy came about or about the new baby. While you may not be ready to discuss the birds and the bees just yet, give honest answers about the pregnancy process without divulging too much. Easier questions may be about the baby, so have fun being as detailed as you want with those!
  • Ask for opinions about baby names, gear, clothes, etc. Involving your preschooler in the process of preparing for the new baby will make him or her feel as if he or she is still needed and has important thoughts to share when it comes to family matters.
  • Relive baby memories. Pull out your preschooler's baby photo albums or movies and have fun talking about when he or she was a baby. Share funny stories or special memories that you or others have had.

How to Explain Pregnancy to a Preschooler

Preschoolers may not be ready for the birds and bees talk yet, but they can grasp general knowledge about the human body. If your preschooler asks how you became pregnant, try asking him or her what they think first. You may get an answer that may seem silly to you (such as 'the baby came from drinking a magic potion' or something on the preschool level), but try to go with it and answer with simple statements, such as:

  • Mommy and Daddy love each other and they decided to have a family.
  • A baby starts growing in Mommy's belly when the family begins.
  • The baby grows in Mommy's uterus, a special place inside of a mom where babies grow.
  • When the baby is ready to come out, doctors and nurses help Mommy get the baby out in the hospital.

Simple statements such as these may appease your preschooler. You may not need to go any further than that, but if your preschooler should press on, give a very simple but accurate description of what causes a pregnancy.

For more help, visit BabyCenter's helpful article about talking to your preschooler about pregnancy here.

Gifts from Baby to Older Sibling

When the new baby finally does arrive, it's time to introduce him or her to the older siblings. One easy way to transition into this introduction is to give the older siblings a small gift from the new baby as a way to say hello. This gift giving takes away any initial feelings from the older siblings that the baby is an intruder in the family.

The gift can be something small like a little stuffed animal with a note that says "Thank you for being my big brother/sister". Bring the gift with you to the hospital and present it to the new big brother or sister when they meet the baby for the first time.

Preventing Sibling Rivalry

Sibling rivalry is an extremely common issue in many families. When a new baby is introduced into the family, it can cause older siblings to feel off-balance in their once familiar world and they may begin to regret having a baby in the house.

The key to preventing sibling rivalry is to recognize and acknowledge the feelings of older siblings while preparing the older siblings with clear expectations of what it could be like with a new baby in the house. Once the baby is born, it's also important to spend some one-on-one time with the older siblings without the baby, while also including the older siblings in some of the activities necessary to take care of the newborn.

For more great ideas, visit this article at WebMD.

How to Prevent Sibling Rivalry

Older Siblings and a New Baby

Once you introduce your newborn to older siblings, don't expect everyone to magically get along all of the time or to enjoy having the new baby around. It's going to take time and patience, but after a while things will settle down and everyone will become used to the new routine.

Enjoy all of the precious moments you have with your children!

┬ęThePracticalMommy

Big Brother, Big Sister, and the New Baby

Enjoy the moments when all siblings are getting along!
Enjoy the moments when all siblings are getting along! | Source

Comments

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    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 3 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      How cute the kids pictures are. You forget how they look when they are that little.

      I remember when Marinda was born that Shelly refused to call her "her". lol She would refer the new baby as a him or boy.

      You are right about spending one on one time with the older siblings. They need to know they are not forgotten.

      Great hub.

    • Kim Maravich profile image

      Kim Maravich 14 months ago from Cranberry Township, PA

      Sorry I'm late to this hub, but I agree that books for the older sibling are wonderful. We bought a "big brother" book for our son when his baby brother was on the way. He was 20 months old when the baby was born. At 3, he still pulls out the book and talks about when his brother was in Mommy's belly.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 18 months ago from the short journey

      These are all great ideas. A thoughtful parent can adapt them so easily to their own situation. How precious the photos are! Thanks for sharing them along with the useful information.

    • profile image

      Amanda 19 months ago

      I disagree that a gift from the "baby" is a good idea. This is dishonest and the older child knows it. Stick with reading books about transitions.

    • profile image

      laura b 19 months ago

      Great ideas! We are discussing having our 2nd. Our first is 7 now and he is ready for a little sister!

    • profile image

      Amber ludwig 19 months ago

      All such great ideas!! This can be such an important time!! I already have a doll ready for my son to have and play with when we announce our second!!

    • profile image

      Julie Wood 20 months ago

      These are very good tips, and I remember when my daughter met her brother for the first time. It was so special, and my daughter fell in love with him and helped me so much in taking care of him!

    • profile image

      Jocelyn J 22 months ago

      Timely for me! I'm preparing my 4 year old and 6 year old for their new baby sibling in a few months. We are going to do little gifts from baby and I've been thinking about doing a keepsake 'big sister' gift from me. My 6 year old wasn't even 2 when she became a sister, so this is all new. I love having them involved, they're very excited- any tips on gender disappointment in kids? My olders are girls and really want a sister... but baby is a brother ;-o Have been trying to subtly talk them into the idea of a brother (they won't have to share their clothes! they can be the two special sister, but I haven't not convinced them yet)

    • profile image

      Hannah 2 years ago

      Thanks for the info. I will have to send this to my sister as her daughter is nearly 3 years old and they are expecting another child! My niece is a little jealous so I feel like she will struggle a bit.

    • profile image

      Lauryn R 2 years ago

      These are all wonderful tips! When my oldest daughter met her younger brother (she was 4) for the first time we surprisingly didn't have any jealousy issues. She adores him! On the other hand, when my youngest daughter was born my son was very jealous (he was only 18 mo.). He was actually pretty much potty trained until thay day, then he reverted. Today he is 2 1/2 and we are still working on it.

    • Jerry Marquardt profile image

      Jerry Marquardt 2 years ago

      I love your advice. This is some very great tips that will help us out a lot.

    • profile image

      James Robert 2 years ago

      What a great post and will help out many parents that already have their first child.

    • profile image

      Jennifer Odom 2 years ago

      These are great tips! I let my kiddos pick out a gift for the new baby and the new baby will have one for them, as well. :)

    • Dandi Daffyhill profile image

      Dandi Daffyhill 2 years ago

      We will be welcoming a new little one any day now, and my son is 4. He's pretty excited about being a big brother.

    • profile image

      wendy browne 2 years ago

      My first two were only two years and two days apart, things were fine until the younger learned to crawl. Now they're 19 and 17 and one is excited for the new baby and the other is pretty angry about it. *shrug*

    • profile image

      Liz Ticona 2 years ago

      thanks for these tips! they are great! I actually have a toddler boy at home (almost 3 years old) and will be bringing home his baby brother any day now and have wondered how to do it. I've started of course, talking about it with him, but I like the book idea and will definitely get a big brother book and read it to my toddler . thanks!

    • profile image

      rebecca kellerman 2 years ago

      These are great tips. I have noticed that some parents give the older child a gift when the baby is born that is "from" the new sibling, so that the older children is happy with them.

    • profile image

      JewelWood 2 years ago

      These are very good tips! I like waiting until the Mom is far along in the pregnancy to tell the toddler that they will be a big brother or big sister. I think getting them involved is such a good idea. It will make them feel that they are involved and getting them to help out is a very good step!

    • profile image

      Teresa Null 2 years ago

      the main thing we did was just talking to the older one.. we got him a couple of big brother items.. i thought it was going to be bad but he done great.. now they are 5 and 3 and he gives in to everything she wants.. even when she does something she shouldn't he talks to her about it without us even asking him too.. hopefully everyone else will have the same luck!!

    • poweranni profile image

      Anne Gillingham 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      I think that one of the key points is that when you have an inconvenience related to the pregnancy, such as fatigue, that puts child no. 1 out, don't explain it to him as "well I can't play with you because of the baby." Or ... "we don't have money for ice cream because we are saving for the baby. " Or ... "we have to move your play area out of the living room, to make room for the baby's pack and play." Child no. 1 will think that Child no. 2 really sux, long before s/he is born.

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 3 years ago

      I agree that you should talk with your toddler first so that they could understand and know what is going on thanks and voted up.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
      Author

      Marissa 3 years ago from United States

      Mz Quene Bee , congrats!! It's fun getting the little ones together for the first time. Best wishes!

    • Mz Quene Bee profile image

      Aquene 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Thank you for this hub! I am a new mommy (my baby is 3 weeks) and my partner has a toddler from a previous relationship. Because the little guy is so young, he didn't really understand what was happening during my pregnancy but often times would point at my belly and say "little brother" which was adorable. He hasn't yet met his little brother but calls on the phone and talks to him. We look forward to introducing them soon.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
      Author

      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      randomcreative, thank you very much! I can't believe he's been here for a week already. My older two love having him home. :) Thanks for reafing!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
      Author

      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      Eiddwen, thanks for reading and for the kind comment! :)

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Congrats on the newest arrival in your family! Thanks for the detailed overview of this important topic.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Full of great advice and interesting. Voted up.

      Eddy.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
      Author

      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      Careermommy , I'm glad you enjoyed the hub! It really does help to bring out the baby gear early. We have had a few pieces out for a month or so now, which really helped our preschooler and toddler adjust to life with their new little brother!

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Careermommy profile image

      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Awww, this brings back so many great memories. My oldest was almost two when he met his little brother for the first time, and I'll never forget how special it was. I love the idea about bringing out the baby gear early. We also got him the book, "I'm a Big Brother." This was a very detailed and informative hub.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
      Author

      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      vandynegl, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub! I have had much practice in it lately, especially since I just introduced my two older children to their new baby brother. :)

      That's great that you're able to spend one-on-one time with your boys by taking turns with each one. I bet they really appreciate that!

      Thanks for reading!

    • vandynegl profile image

      vandynegl 4 years ago from Ohio Valley

      Super hub! I definitely enjoyed reading this and it reminded me of the things I did (and didn't do) to prepare my oldest for his baby brother! Books are super! And there are so many out there! I used them a lot! I agree with the prevention of sibling rivalry and I still deal with this to this day! I often separate my boys (one with one parent, one with another) in order to get special bonding time in!