How to break the news - we share advice on how to prepare your children for the arrival of a new baby brother or sister.
The arrival of a new brother or sister is something that your children will find hugely exciting whatever their age. However, as with any big change, it may take them a little while to get used to the idea. To help make this transition as smooth as possible for you and your little ones we share our top tips for preparing your children for a new arrival.
Breaking the news
There's no right or wrong way to break the news of your pregnancy to the 'soon-to-be big brothers and sisters'. The only important rule is to make sure you tell them yourself so in general it's best to break the news before your pregnancy becomes common knowledge. Let your child's age and maturity be a guide as to when you share the news and make sure you explain your pregnancy to them in terms that they will understand.
Getting them used to the idea
After being the center of attention it can be difficult for your children to get used to the idea of sharing you and your partner. For this reason once you've broken the news it's best to involve them as much as you can in preparing for your baby's arrival. You could try the following:
Preparing them for baby's arrival
- Choose a fun nickname for your bump or refer to baby as 'your brother or sister' rather than 'the new baby' when talking to your children.
- Read books about brothers and sisters and talk about it will be like to have a young baby around the house to help prepare them.
- Spend time with families who have young babies so your children can get used to being around them and understand how to treat and act around a new baby.
- Let your children help you choose names, nursery colours or even baby grows. Regardless of how old they are this will help them to feel involved.
As the big day approaches it's important to explain to your child what will happen when the baby is ready to arrive.
After baby arrives
- Decide who will be looking after your child when you go into labour and get them used to spending time with that person before the baby comes. A grandparent, auntie or close friend is usually a good option as it's important your child feels completely comfortable in their company.
- Explain to them that they'll be staying with 'Grandma' or 'Aunt Sue' while you go to have the baby. Only mention that you'll be going to hospital if you feel that this won't upset your child.
Getting 'back to normal'
- When you see your child again for the first time after your baby's arrival, whether this be at home or hospital, it's a good idea to have some else holding baby so that you can give them a big hug hello before the big introduction.
- Try to introduce your child to their new brother or sister when there are few other visitors around as this can help make the situation less overwhelming for them.
- Prepare a special present for baby to give to their big brother or sister when they meet for the first time as this will help to sweeten the new addition to them and will also help to keep them occupied while you're settling back in. It can also be nice to help your child choose a present to welcome the baby with too.
While things are going to be very different for your child after baby arrives it's still important to try and keep some sense of normality as this will help your child to adjust better to the new arrival.
Have you shared the news of your baby's arrival with your other children or are you unsure how to break the news? Why not share your stories and dilemmas with other parents on the AskBaby forums.
- Try and keep as many elements of your child's routine as unchanged as is reasonably possible. This may be difficult as you'll be working to a whole new schedule, especially during those first few weeks but it can really help to make your child feel secure and unthreatened by the new baby.
- Make sure both you and your partner spend a little one to one time with your child away from baby each day. This will help them to feel special and will reassure them that they are still an important part of the family.
- Involve siblings in looking after the baby as much as possible. While practically their role will depend on how old they are, whether it's feeding, changing (they could be your special runner and pass you things you need) or helping to sing baby to sleep it will all help you to mesh as a family.
- Avoid any big changes such as potty training or starting nursery in the first couple of months after your baby is born as in all likelihood, with all the other changes going on in their lives, they won't be well received and to be honest you probably don't need to stress.
- You may find that your child regresses slightly once baby arrives. Try to correct any bad behaviour without making too much of a big deal out of it, instead praising your child for 'big boy or girl' behaviour as much as possible as this will help to reinforce them with the attention they crave without encouraging them to act out.