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Preparing Children for the Arrival of a New Sibling

How have you prepared your children for the arrival of a new baby? What worked, what didn't, and what advice would you give to parents about to bring home another sibling? Here's what some of our StorkNet members said . . .

From Dee . . . I am currently 25 weeks pregnant with my second child. My first child is 5 years old, and we've preparing her by telling her she had a new brother coming. I am taking nursing classes and I read through the anatomy book with her. It has some wonderful pictures of childbirth, the baby inside a mommy's tummy, etc. She loves the idea of having a little brother and being big sister Megan. We also told her she would get to help feed the baby and bathe him; I think it's still more like a doll to her. I'll let you know how it goes!

From Nina . . . We brought home our second child when our first was almost two. Everything went very well, and I'm not sure if it was good planning or good luck. At any rate the best advice I can give is don't blame things on the new baby, for example instead of saying "be quiet the baby's sleeping" say "be quiet and use your inside voice" or whatever, just don't blame everything on THE BABY. Also if at all possible, just pretend you trust your toddler with and around the newborn as much as possible. Your trust in them is a big deal to them and they can interpret your nervousness with THE BABY as the baby being superior or special. Good Luck!

From Michelle . . . Two things I did that helped my 8 year old avoid getting upset and feeling left out . . . First, I had a small gift for him from his baby brother, to open when we came home. He felt he was important because he got a little extra attention while he opened his gift. And secondly, I made sure my husband carried the baby into the house. This way, I was free to hug my older son as I came through the door. I didn't have to say, "get down" or "you have to wait". He felt better because the baby wasn't "taking his place."

From Danielle . . . I am expecting #3 on October 20, 1997. I have two children, Zachary (5) and Kayla (2). I am trying a different approach this time rather than what I had done for Zachary when Kayla was born. I am going to make each of them their own "BIG Brother" and "BIG Sister" basket to take with them to the hospital when we have our expected little girl. The basket will include coloring book, crayons, pencil, paper, snacks, box juice drinks, a special little toy. For my boy, it is a hot wheels car, and for my daughter, it is a little baby doll, and a shirt for both that says "Courtney's BIG Bother" and "Courtney's BIG Sister." While my pregnancy is still here, I just try to talk to them about the baby and have them help me get the things ready for her, and they pick out outfits etc. at the store for her too.

From Tracy . . . We have tried lots of things with our sons; our oldest Cody is excited. He is also 6 years old. Our youngest, Austin 4, was telling me constantly how much he "HATES" the baby. We signed them both up for sibling class, have visited the hospital on several occasions to look at the babies in the nursery, etc... We put the crib up about 3 weeks ago, right after Daddy got done handcrafting and finishing Austin's bed. I think, though, these things have helped, but we should have waited to tell him when I was 6 months pregnant, rather than 4 weeks. Had I known he would have such trouble adapting to the change I would have definitely waited. We are now 7 months, and he still on occasion hates the baby, but I feel that he is changing and also getting excited. We read lots of books on bringing new babies home, and even looked at some resource books at a kids store called Zany Brainy to give him an idea what the birth will be like. Unfortunately he has to share his room with the new baby, and that's not going over too well.

From Angel . . . We began preparing our three year old daughter for the "new baby" as soon as we found out I was pregnant. We told her that the baby is growing inside mommy's tummy so that when I get bigger she will understand what is going on. We talk about the new baby often and have even involved her in picking out names for the baby (she likes Dylan for a boy and Sarah for a girl). We plan to enroll her in the sibling classes at our hospital and buy her a baby of her own for the day the new baby comes.

From Chris . . .Most hospitals now have sibling classes and this proved very beneficial to my 11 and 4 year old for the birth of their sister. Check with your local hospital if you are planning a hospital birth. Call early because they fill up fast! At the class, they both made "welcome cards" for the baby that the hospital taped and displayed on the new baby's crib in the nursery. Not only was it special to the older children, but they were able to pick their baby out at the window right away. I still have those cards in my 3rd daughter's baby book.

From Babette . . . I have two children, expecting my third in late June. When we were having Gabrielle, we prepared Rebecca for her arrival and to be at the birth of her sister (it was at a progressive hospital). She watched a video tape put out by the Bradley method called "Children At Birth"; it is a tape of children at their siblings' births. Also, Rebecca and I had a special visit to the hospital so she could see where the baby would be born. Finally, we gave her a baby of her own on Gabi's birth day; it was just a simple baby doll, with no extraneous stuff. The two of them are very close.

From Cath . . . We told our then 18 month old about the baby as soon as I found out I was pregnant. We kept it simple and told him that the baby was "inside mummy" (not in the stomach) and we included talk of the baby in our regular conversations without going over the top and "overdoing it". We bought Bill a baby doll with a bottle and a stroller, which was a big hit, and we moved him into his own "big bed" when I was about 6 months pregnant, so he would (hopefully) be used to the bed and not feel too displaced by losing his crib.

We have tried not to oversell the baby, as I am sure he will be expecting a playmate, and it may be very disappointing to learn that the new baby is a crying, attention grabbing, little individual who cannot even play with him, and monopolizes his parents. The other day he pointed to my belly and said "open it" so I suppose he is as ready as he'll ever be. I'll let you know in a couple of weeks......

From Patricia . . . We planned a birthday for our older little ones. I bought a frozen cake, ice cream, party hats and wrapped presents for the siblings. Just as soon as we got baby all settled in, we had a birthday party! This was our homebirths. With a hospital birth, you will probably want to wait until you are home to have the party. I did pack small gifts for my older child and carried them to the hospital. When visitors showed up with gifts for the baby, she got her own gift if she was there at the time.

From Cori . . . My daughter followed along in my What to Expect book, seeing how the baby was developing in my tummy, etc. She also went to a couple of prenatal visits to hear the heartbeat and to the ultrasound. We got her a New Baby book right after I found out I was pregnant. We would have her talk to the baby, sing songs, etc. She is still the only one who can ALWAYS get a smile out of her little sister!

From Dorene . . . We bought gifts for all our older children, but they were also prepared as far as having the baby. Since we are childbirth instructors, they looked at all our charts, watched videos of births, and most of all, they all got to hold the baby right after it was born. All the kids were on our bed looking and touching and holding. We were a family. Our children have never felt left out. I think that homebirths make it easier for that.

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