New Baby

Introducing Your Children To Your New Baby

Having another baby can be such an exciting time for the whole family. It may be the first time you have a baby boy or girl and it's also the first time your older child is a big brother or sister. But you might be worried about how your oldest child is going to cope with having to share their parents with their little baby brother or sister. 

There will be lots of upsides for your child to having a brother or sister, but it is a big change for them which you will need to support with patience and planning.

Dive Deeper

Breaking The News

It's probably best to wait until you are past your 12th week of pregnancy or have had your second scan to speak with your child about the new arrival. Not only will you know that your pregnancy is going well, you may also have a small bump which will make it easier to explain to your child.

Try and be as reassuring as possible. Let them know that having a new baby in the house will not mean that you will love them any less, but let them know that the new baby will need lots of your time as they are too little to look after themselves.

Here are some tips which can make it easier to explain what is happening to your child:

  • Use books to tell the story. Using pictures, instead of words, will make things clearer to a toddler and may prompt them to ask different questions.
  • Show them photos of when you were pregnant with them. This helps them see what you will look like as the pregnancy moves on. 
  • Share ultrasound photos of the new baby with them, listen to recordings of the heartbeat if you have them on your phone and let them place their hands on your tummy when the baby is moving.
  • You can get a baby doll for your child to play with. It will give your child a good idea of what their brother or sister will look like once they are born and you can show them how you hold a baby gently, protecting their head and neck. Talk about using kind hands, nappy changing, bathing and feeding.
  • If you can, take them to a midwife appointment where the baby’s heartbeat can be heard.

Preparing Older Siblings For The New Baby

Children can react differently when they are told a new baby is on the way. Some children might be anxious and bad-tempered. Some children might be as excited and happy as you are about a new baby. These are completely normal reactions to the exciting news!

Here are some things that you can do to help prepare your child for the new arrival:

  • Before the baby is born, speak to them often about the new baby and get them excited about becoming a big sister or brother. 
  • Let them feel, read and talk to the baby bump so they can start to bond with them before they arrive.
  • Read some books with your child. There are lots of books out there for different aged children about having a new baby. This is a good way of introducing the topic.
  • Once the baby has arrived, get the sibling involved with looking after the baby. Ask them to bring you a nappy or help to choose what the baby will wear.
  • Try not to make any big changes too close to the baby arriving (e.g. potty training, starting nursery, moving from cot to bed). This can add more stress to you and your child in what is already a very busy time!
  • When visitors come to see the new baby, let your child be the one to introduce their new baby sister or brother.

Arrangements For The Birth

It's important that you arrange care for your older child which covers the time from the beginning of your labour. They may be worried about not being with you, particularly if you haven't been apart much in the past. The person who will care for them when you're having your baby ideally needs to be someone they know well.

A trusted relative such as a parent, a good friend or a babysitter may be able to help. Well before your due date, if they haven't spent much time with this person, invite them to spend time with your toddler while you or your partner are there. Then leave them together for a short time.

In this situation, it helps if you can call on an extended family of relatives or friends. It is important for all your immediate family network to know what plans are in place, so that you can try and avoid too many separations, new places and strange faces during this big change.

Meeting The Baby For The First Time

When the baby is born, try and introduce your child to them as soon as possible. Try and make it a really positive experience for your child. Give them lots of praise and encouragement. Allow them to gently touch baby, to stroke their feet or tummy and let them know they have to be gentle.

If your older children do not want to hold the baby or pay them any attention, that's ok. Let them do it in their own time. They may be nervous and just want to watch the adults before they have a go.

When your children see the baby for the first time, try to make sure that the baby is in their cot, moses basket, buggy or that someone else is holding the baby. This allows you to give all your attention to your child, give them hugs and kisses and let them know how much you have missed them. 

Who can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of the Healthy Child Programme team.

Other parents who are going through or have been through this before can be a big help. You could join our online forum to speak to other Norfolk Parents below.

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