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5 Tips for welcoming a new sibling

Updated: Apr 7

One of the most frequent questions I get from second time parents - how do I help my child adjust to a new baby. I have some tips that can help ease the transition from solo child to Superhero Sibling.

A happy child holding her expecting mother's belly
Excited big sister



Tip #1 Encourage your child to be involved early on


There are so many ways that you can spend time making sure your child feels included before baby arrives and the good news is that it will help them adjust to their new role and lay the groundwork for bonding with their new sibling.


For example, asking your child about how to decorate the nursery is an opportunity for them to express what they think a baby might need. It can spark conversations in a way that is draws on their natural curiosity, like why babies need a changing table or crib, instead of a big kid bed.


Choosing nicknames they might like can also be very effective because it lets children contribute to special family vocabulary. They might stick, they might not, but the activity will give you a glimpse into your child's imagination and thoughts about a baby they might not have the ability to express.

Teaching your older child lullabies to sing to the baby is a beautiful way to establish early bonds between siblings. It's one way to develop musical expression and creativity in your older child, and it also creates connection with their new sibling.



Tip #2 Pull out the baby books


Sharing memories from your child's baby book or looking at photos of special moments together can be a meaningful way to involve them in the process of welcoming their new sibling.


Your child doesn't remember you taking pictures of their first car ride, or first bath, but flipping through old pictures will help them see that these are all things that you did for them, and now they can help you document them for the baby. Creating a "baby moment checklist" is something that your child can use to keep track of their new sibling's development.


It's also an opportunity to create bonding. When my daughter saw her baby brother crying in his first bath, she was able to sweetly tell him it was going to be okay, because she saw pictures of her crying in her first bath.




Tip #3 Make them feel important


Your child will need reassurance that they are still important to you and the family. Don't underestimate the power of your words. Remind your child that you love them, they are important members of the family and valued for who they are often. Eventually, you might get it to a shorthand. I can remember my dad saying to me (well into adulthood) "Have I told you today?", which was his code for, I love you, good job, kid.


Special jobs like helping with diapers or collecting bath supplies can go a long way to making them feel like they are important, part of a team and have something to contribute. to the family. It can also be a way to keep them engaged when you are busy doing the things that you need to do for a newborn. Don't be worried though, if they don't want to either, not all kids are the same!



Tip #4 Keep some one on one time


You've done this before, so you KNOW that a new baby is demanding.   Despite the demands of caring for a newborn, make sure to carve out dedicated one-on-one time with your older child. Whether it's reading a book together, going for a walk, or playing their favorite game, this focused attention reinforces their importance and strengthens your bond. It can also be a great activity to have them come up with a list of things they might like to do with you.


Regularly schedule these special moments in the calendar to ensure that your child feels valued and cherished and gives them something to look forward to. A Doula or other trusted person can care for baby if you need help!




Tip #5 Be patient and let them feel all of the feelings 


This is a big shift for your child, and they are looking for reassurance that they are still important to you. Encourage them to express their feelings, positive and negative and listen to them attentively. It is natural for them to feel a range of emotions such as excitement, jealousy, anxiety or worry and joy. For a child who has not had a lot of change, it can be a lot, especially if they are feeling conflicting emotions at the same time! Remind them that their feelings are normal and that your are there to listen to them.



Bonus tips!

I know, I said 5, but there are 2 more tips that I wanted to sprinkle in.


First - try to keep your child's routine as consistent as possible. If you have a bedtime routine that is bath, brushing teeth and story, keeping those consistent will give them a sense of stability and help ease the transition. Make sure both parents are involved before baby comes, so they don't feel abandoned if one parent can't help.


Second - language matters. If your child wants to go to the park, don't tell them you can't because the baby is sleeping. If you choose wording such as "I would love to go to the park with you, why don't we go in an hour" you can avoid negative associations with the baby.




I hope that these tips will give you the confidence to help your child feel important, secure, and loved as they adjust to their new role and all of the changes that come with the arrival of a new sibling. Please remember to take the time to step back and admire the beautiful new relationship that they will have for years to come.






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Hi!  I"m Cara Benvenuti, the "Doula in Chief" at Lakeshore Doula Services.  I am so thrilled to be following my heart and calling as a doula!  I spent 25 years of my life in finance at some of Canada's largest financial institutions in a variety of roles from advising people on their mutual fund portfolios, to supporting investment management firms.   My goal is to empower women and families to make good financial decisions, and be supported in the journey of new parenthood.

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