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Preparing siblings for a new baby's arrival

The arrival of a new baby is a big moment for the parents, and their big brother or sister.

Preparing children ahead of time for the birth of their baby sister or brother will help them adjust when the baby is born. Here are some tips:

Ways to prepare your older child for the new baby

  • Tell your child about his or her "babyhood" - how he or she was born and fed, how you rocked him or her and shared many hugs and kisses.
  • Show your child photographs when he or she was being fed, held, and bathed as a baby.
  • Let your child go with you to your antenatal visits. Have your child listen to the foetal heartbeat and feel the baby kick within your stomach.
  • Give your child a new doll so he or she can practise caring for a 'baby' too.
  • Make arrangements for your child's care while you are in the hospital. Discuss these arrangements with your child well before the baby's due date.
  • Prepare the baby's bedroom or sleeping area well in advance, so your child can adjust.
  • Place a photograph of the older child as a baby at child's eye level in the baby's room or where the family spends the most time.
  • Talk to your child about what their new sibling will be like. Use books that show pictures of babies and discuss what babies can and can not do.
  • Develop a method of long-distance contact with your older child before going to the hospital. Some ideas are: call your child by phone so he or she will get used to the sound of your voice on the phone; write notes to your child to ask him or her to do small jobs; make a recording of you reading a story to your child.
  • Involve your child in preparations for the new baby. If your child wants to, let him or her:
  • Help you pack your suitcase for the hospital.
  • Help select baby's name.
  • Help pick out baby's coming home clothes.

Make the baby's homecoming a special event for the whole family

  • When you arrive home from the hospital, let dad carry the baby so that your arms are open for your older child.
  • Have a birthday cake and family birthday party to celebrate the new baby when you return home from the hospital.
  • If your child wants to, let him or her help make birth announcements by drawing pictures, etc.
  • Have your child pass out something special to friends announcing the baby's birth.
  • Have your older child and baby exchange presents. Your older child may want to pick out a special present for the baby.
  • Ask your friends and relatives to greet your older child before seeing the new baby.
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