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Preparing Your First Child For A Sibling

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Having told our toddler he’s having a sister I thought I would share some of the tips I have learned for telling your child they’re having a sibling!

I didn’t have a lot of advice for telling my little guy he was having a sibling and as he’s going to be 5 and a half when she’s born I feel like it’s a bigger gap, making it a bit more difficult. When you have just one baby for so long, transitioning to having another can be very hard for you, your significant other, but especially for your first child. I was an only child for 10 years and when you have been an only child for any period of time, it can be hard to face the fact that you have to share your parents (and your stuff) with someone else.
That being said, I don’t think having younger ones makes it any easier because they don’t quite understand things and could get angry or their feelings hurt. As parents, it’s our job to prep them and try to make it as seamless as possible so that they aren’t blindsided when the new baby arrives. So here are some of the things I have learned so far about telling your child they are going to have a sibling!

Don’t Rush It: Tell Them When You Feel is Best:

You know your child the best, after all, you have been there from the beginning. You should tell them about your pregnancy when you feel it is the right time so they can deal with it in the best possible way. Personally, I recommend telling them before your belly starts to grow too much so they can see and fully understand what is happening throughout the entire process but it is entirely up to you and what you think is best for your baby. For us, we told him after our 12-week scan because we had a scan photo to show him something tangible he could see in front of him to help him understand!

Explain Everything: Be Honest

They are bound to have questions, and whether they are big or small you should take them seriously and answer them all as honestly as you can. Our little guy got really hung up on some of the trivial points such as what happens to his toys and will the baby cry a lot, those sorts of things and we answered them all. It is important that he doesn’t feel belittled while he is trying to understand what is going on otherwise he will bottle it up and it can lead to outbursts or bad behaviour.
You also need to be brutally honest about what to expect otherwise they will have illusions of grandeur when the baby arrives. We have explained that babies can cry, are stinky and in the beginning are really boring and fragile so can’t do that much. We also explained you might hear her cry at night and that it is to be expected. Do you remember the shock of being first-time parents? Well, imagine how a toddler is going to feel without all the information!

Prep Them:

There are so many great ways to prepare your child for welcoming a baby sibling into the family. You can find movies for them to watch all about it, or there are hundreds of books out there that you can find to read to them and help them to really understand what is happening. We recently bought (Aff)”There’s a house inside my mummy” and other than one strangely worded page at the back it has been really helpful in trying to explain everything going on and that there really is a baby inside there!

Involve Them:

While you may not be allowed to bring them to the doctor or to scans with you, involving them in the process such as name ideas, nursery choices and picking clothes and toys can make them feel more included and integrated into the whole process rather than an outsider who is watching you go through it all. As a pregnant person, we need a lot of support and toddlers can be helpful if you give them the chance! (although sadly we aren’t going with any of the weird name choices he has suggested haha!)

Get Them Excited:

A great way to encourage them is to get them a t-shirt or something of the like that says “big brother” and make sure they also know how much fun having a sibling will be, including playing together and having someone there to watch your back.
It can be nerve-wracking moving from one child to two but you shouldn’t let this reflect on your first child, if they see you are nervous they will be too. As long as they know that they are not any less loved because of another baby then regardless of whether they are having a hard time now, they (and you) will be just fine!
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