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June 6, 2024

Welcoming the New Big Brother or Sister

Becoming a big brother or sister is a big deal, no matter your child’s age or interests. It’s an exciting time for the whole family, especially when there are new babies on the way. However, it can also be a big adjustment for your older child. That’s why it’s important to prepare them for their new role and make sure they feel welcomed and included in the family’s newest addition.

Older sister playing with her baby brother that is in a crib

Preparing Your Child for a New Sibling

Preparing your child for a new sibling can start before the baby is even born. Here are some tips to help prepare your child for their new role as big brother or sister:

  • Talk to Your Child: Start by having open and honest conversations with your child about what it means to have a new baby in the family. Explain that they may not get as much attention from you at first, but assure them that they are still loved just as much.
  • Involve Them in the Pregnancy: Take your child to doctor’s appointments, let them feel the baby kick, and have them help pick out clothes or toys for the new baby. This will make them feel more connected to their future sibling.
  • Read Books: There are many books available that explain what it means to be a big brother or sister. Reading these with your child can help them understand their new role in a fun and interactive way.
  • Role Play: Before the baby arrives, you can play pretend with your child by having them take care of a doll like a real baby. This will give them an idea of what to expect and also make them feel included in the preparations for the new arrival.

2 young brothers lying on a bed

Ways to Welcome the New Big Brother or Sister

Once the baby has arrived, it’s important to make sure your older child feels welcomed and included in the family. Here are some ways to do that, depending on the age of your child:

For Toddlers (Ages 2-3)

Story time with a Twist

Toddlers love stories and looking at pictures in books. Prepare a special storybook featuring the new big sibling in the leading role. Include relatable scenarios like helping with the baby or sharing toys.

Big Sibling Kit

Create a “Big Sibling Kit” with items like a “Best Big Brother” or “Best Big Sister” shirt, matching toys, and a picture book about being a big sibling. Make sure to take photos of them with the sibling so they have something to look back on.

Toddler girl standing on a bed while her baby sister is sitting on the bed

For Preschoolers (Ages 4-5)

Art and Craft Activities

Preschoolers often love arts and crafts. Set up a craft station where they can make a special card or drawing to welcome their new sibling, or a piece of artwork to include in the baby’s nursery. Include materials like colored paper, stickers, and markers.

Hand Me Down’s

As your child had a greater understanding of responsibility, let them go through their old baby clothes and toys with you to decide which ones they would like to pass down to the new baby. This will give them a sense of maturity and importance in the family.

For School-Age Children (Ages 6-10)

Baby Care Assistant

Assign your older child small tasks to help with the baby’s care, such as fetching a diaper or picking out an outfit. This will make them feel involved and responsible for their younger sibling’s well-being. Just make sure to not give them tasks that are beyond their capabilities.

Big Sibling Bonding Time

Have them spend some special one-on-one time with your new baby sibling, showing them how much they are loved and cared for. This will help you build a strong bond and reassure them that they are an important part of the family.

Corner of a bedroom with a bed next to a crib

For Tweens and Teens (Ages 11-16)

Educational Responsibility

Older kids might enjoy learning how to help with baby care. Teach them simple tasks like holding the baby safely, how to properly swaddle, or even how to change a diaper. This builds their confidence and connection with the baby. 

Family Time

Make sure to still have family outings and activities that include the older child. This will show them that they are still an integral part of the family unit, even with a new addition. Find family friendly activities that are interesting for a teenager, but that are safe and baby-friendly such as going to a sporting event, a museum, or the beach! It also allows for quality bonding time between siblings.

General Tips for All Ages

Open Communication

Encourage open dialogue about their feelings regarding the new baby. Reassure them that it’s normal to feel a range of emotions and that they can always talk to you. This will help them feel supported and understood.

Special Bonding Time

Make sure to set aside special bonding time with your older child, whether it’s reading a book together, playing a game, or going on an outing. This will show them that they are still important and loved, even with the added responsibility of being a big brother or sister.

Celebrating Together

Make the occasion a family celebration. Include the big sibling in baby milestones, like coming home from the hospital or the baby’s first bath.

Reinforce Their Importance

Frequently remind the big sibling how important they are and how much you appreciate their help. Positive reinforcement goes a long way in building a strong, supportive sibling bond.

Welcoming a new sibling is a significant transition. With these tips, you can prepare your child for their new role and make sure they feel welcomed and included in the family’s newest addition. By appreciating and celebrating the big brother or sister’s new role, you help create a loving, supportive environment for everyone.