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Eliminate Sibling Rivalry - How To Prepare a Sibling for a New Baby

Updated on November 5, 2012

My son was about to turn three years old when we found out we were expecting another baby. While my husband and I were thrilled, we were also concerned about how our son would take the news and, more importantly, the baby's arrival. We were determined to do as much as we could to make the transition both smooth and happy for him.

Sibling rivalry eliminated
Sibling rivalry eliminated | Source

Talking About the New Baby

We obviously wanted our son to be excited about his new sibling, but we also didn't want to give him false impressions about what it would be like. At three years old, he was old enough to understand how his life was going to change. Sugarcoating the situation would only make him lose trust in us after the baby arrived and it wasn't as we had described.

We described how the baby would likely cry a lot, but we also explained to him why she would cry. We made sure that he understood that she wouldn't know much about the world (like he didn't know much when he was born), and that would make her scared. We also told him that he could help with that by soothing her and helping her learn about the world and feel more comfortable.

Big Brother can Help!
Big Brother can Help! | Source

Books for New Siblings

Kids Help with New Babies

It's important for future older siblings to play a role in their sibling's life. Giving them a job, or something to take on as their responsibility can be very helpful in making them feel like a part of the process.

Once we had told our son what having a baby would be like, we decided to start talking to him about what his role as a big brother was going to be. One of the first things we did was ask him what kinds of things he thought he might be able to teach his sister. He had a few questions at first, about what she would already know. He was completely shocked that she wasn't going to know any letters of the alphabet, not even A!

Over the course of a few months, here is the list he determined would be most important to teach her:

  • The "ABC song"
  • How to color
  • How to eat with a spoon
  • How to say his name
  • How to fight with light sabers

Despite our laughter at the last one, we encouraged him to continue to think of things he could teach her. He really loved that idea and took it upon himself to be the "big kid". Although that was several years ago, he still takes it upon himself to teach her things.

Kids Making Good Choices

Honesty is very important in this situation. After explaining to the older sibling what having a new baby will be like, as him or her to suggest ways to make the changes easier. For example, maybe he or she could help decide how the baby's room should be arranged. Or, he could help figure out where the diapers and wipes should be stored for easy access. The older the sibling, the more they can help!

You can also talk about situations, such as what to do when the baby cries or needs to be fed. Let him or her feel as though they are contributing to the entire family figuring out the new situation.

Sibling Love
Sibling Love | Source

Give Them Their Own Space

To an older sibling, the baby seems to take over not only the parents, but also the house! Suddenly diapers and baby gear are everywhere, and his or her stuff gets moved to a lesser status in the house. Also, if you are childproofing, suddenly the older sibling's small items have to be picked up all the time.

To remedy this situation, give the big brother or sister a baby-free space to keep their toys and precious items, and to play. We bought a large plastic tub and labeled it the "No Baby Tub", and our son keeps anything in there that he doesn't want his little sister to play with or mess up. We let him decide what goes in there. We also allow him to play at the dining room table or at our kitchen bar because his sister can't reach any of his toys there.

If you keep the older sibling involved in the process, and remain as honest as possible, the transition will be smooth! You can all enjoy your new baby's arrival together.

Keep Siblings Involved
Keep Siblings Involved | Source


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    • Amy Gillie profile image

      Amy Gillie 5 years ago from Indiana

      Thanks Nora411! My kids are 5 and 1 now, and they adore each other. I hope this helps!

    • Nora411 profile image

      Nora411 5 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Great Info ! We have 1 child now, so this is great advice for when we decide to have the next one ! Thanks! Voting up!

    • Amy Gillie profile image

      Amy Gillie 5 years ago from Indiana

      Thanks Nettlemere! I think he understands now. He wants to teach her everything!

    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      What great ideas and really cute about your three old being shocked that his new sibling wouldn't even know letter A.

    • Amy Gillie profile image

      Amy Gillie 5 years ago from Indiana

      Hoteltravel - thanks so much! I'm so glad that these speak to you and mimic your experience. The sibling experience can be wonderful when it starts off on the right foot.

    • hoteltravel profile image

      hoteltravel 5 years ago from Thailand

      Excellent hub on a typically neglected topic. As an elder sibling myself, I knew about the problem from a child's viewpoint. Because of this, I was able to handle it so well that my eldest, who was an introvert, came out of her shell. With the second one, I gained more than a child. I wholeheartedly agree with all your suggestions. Voted all the way up and awesome.

    • Amy Gillie profile image

      Amy Gillie 5 years ago from Indiana

      Thank you for the read and the great comments, Becky! I'm glad you've seen a good relationship grow between siblings. Feel free to check out my profile for some hubs on kid-friendly activities to do with your nieces!

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Very good hub on getting them accustomed to having a new baby. My niece was five when her baby sister was born. After about a month she was showing symptoms of jealousy because the baby got all of the attention. Aunt Becky decided she needed something special that baby sister couldn't do. My vacation was coming up and I had planned on going camping with my parents. I asked if she could come. She had a ball and we gently pointed out that the new baby had to stay home instead of having all the fun of going camping with Grandma, Grandpa and Aunt Becky. She decided that that was much more fun and there were advantages to being the big girl. Not as much attention but she got to do a lot more. Problem was taken care of.