7 Ways to Prepare Your Older Child for the Arrival of a New Baby

7 Ways to Prepare Your Older Child for the Arrival of a New Baby

Find out how to prepare your older child for a new baby’s homecoming.


By: Marisa Torrieri Bloom

I got pregnant with my second baby when my oldest son was just 11 months old. He could barely talk, let alone comprehend what it meant that I was having another baby. Still, we took the advice of friends and did some pre-baby prep work — we bought and wrapped a gift to give to our toddler on my infant’s homecoming and spent as much one-on-one time as possible with our older son so he felt special. We also took the time to point to my growing stomach and say “baby” so he’d start to understand in the best way he could that someone special was coming.

While doing these things didn’t eliminate all spurts of jealousy over mommy’s love and attention, they certainly minimized them — and he wasn’t completely caught off-guard when baby arrived.

Keeping in mind that your older child’s age could influence what you could and should do, here are seven ways to prepare your older child for a baby’s homecoming that have worked for me and other moms.

1. Read a book with a “new baby theme. Perhaps the best way to start preparing your older child for baby’s homecoming is by using story time as an opportunity to teach your child about babies — from what they look like (tiny and bald) to how they sleep (in a crib) to the noises they make (cries and gurgles). For my toddler, reading The Berenstain Bears New Baby starting when I was seven months pregnant definitely piqued his interest. By the time we got down to the last few days before baby arrived, he was pointing to pictures of tiny Sister Bear and shouting “baby” with glee! Another great read is I’m a Big Brother (or I’m a Big Sister).

2. Have your kid help pick baby ’s name. When my friend Laura was 4, her parents told her about the baby and asked her to weigh in on some of the names she liked. While she doesn’t remember if one of her top choices ended up being her sibling’s name, she does remember feeling like she was a big participant in the process of family expansion and felt a newfound sense of pride.

3. Involve the tummy. My brother is seven years younger than I am, so I didn’t struggle with uncertainty about what a baby was, as many moms of toddlers do. But having my dad point to my mom’s tummy — and point out how it grew — did bestow on me a sense that the little baby was a tiny, growing person. As my mom’s tummy grew bigger, I recall taking my Hot Wheels Dukes of Hazzard car and shouting “yee-hah” as it “jumped” over her stomach. Doing this made everyone laugh and helped make the idea of having a baby something fun.

4. Have your older child prepare a gift for the new baby.
Chances are you’ve heard that parents should get a gift for their older child and, upon the new arrival’s homecoming, present it to the child as a present from the new baby. Since I was 6 when I learned my mom was pregnant, she did something a little different by “letting” me wrap a few little gifts for the baby and thanking me for my “important” contribution. This, she believes, is one of the key reasons why, when my brother arrived, I felt a sense of responsibility toward him.

5. Involve your older child in decorating. Preparing for a baby is a lot of work — so why not employ a special little helper? Having your toddler or school-age child help in selecting new furniture or paint colors can have the added benefit of making them feel like a family decision maker. In doing the decorating and seeing all the things the baby needs, they’ll be more prepared for what life with a baby is like once the baby comes home from the hospital.

6. Post your sonogram pic. One mom I spoke to recently told me that she posted a picture of her third baby’s ultrasound on the wall alongside all the photos of her older kids’ cousins and family members to get her kids to start thinking of the new baby as part of the family. My friends Lauren and Krissy went one step further and took their 3-year-old toddlers to their babies’ ultrasound appointments. “My daughter came to every one of my appointments and was given the ultrasound pics first, so it was her job to show everyone,” says Krissy. For Lauren’s son, being told he was important enough to go to the ultrasound appointment gave him a sense of pride in his baby sister. “He even called her ‘my baby’ to people when she was born,” Lauren recalls.

7. Talk about the baby a lot! Telling your kid that another baby will be joining the family is important — so use as many opportunities as possible to talk about how the baby will fit into your life as a family (“when the new baby is here, he will sleep a lot” or “this is the new car seat that the baby will sit in,” for example).

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While these are just some of the ways to prepare your older child for a baby’s homecoming, there are many other ones. As long as you focus on making your older child feel important and doing whatever you can to let him know what to expect, you’ll be better off when the new baby arrives.

What are some of the ways you ’re preparing your big kid for the new baby?


Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a freelance writer and guitar teacher who lives with her husband and two young sons in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Image ©iStock.com/lostinbids

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