How to Prepare the Sibling(s) for a New Baby
There are many jokes and stories told about a sibling’s reaction to mommy’s growing belly. Depending on the age of the sibling, some children can have a basic understanding, but if your child is under the age of two, he is clueless. It is important to keep in mind that every child will react differently to the arrival of a new sibling. In Chapter 2, of My Baby Compass – Birth to Two, I describe how your child has different speaking, listening and learning styles. Learning styles emphasize your child’s dominant sense which is important for the way he processes information. By using your child’s dominant sense, you can help reduce his anxiety about a new sibling.
- A visual child can become uncomfortable with your tummy growing larger. He may think your big tummy is hurting you and he may get upset when he sees all the new baby items entering the household. Help him by showing pictures of you before and after you were pregnant with him. Have him help you decorate the nursery and feel a part of the process. This can help him express anxiety and adjust to the new bundle of joy.
- An auditory child can feel left out when everyone is talking about the new baby and the sibling doesn’t understand or may even become jealous. Have him speak and sing lullabies to your belly and even imitate the sounds babies make when they are born. Once he gets a little coaching, he will be a big help in interpreting those early cries. Read story books together about a family with a new baby and listen to music your child enjoys.
- A kinesthetic/tactile child may not understand why you can’t be as active while you are pregnant. He may worry that this condition will be permanent. Sometimes a tactile child will want to be carried everywhere or get clingy and want to crawl in your lap frequently. Let him be involved in the pregnancy by letting him feel when the baby is kicking. Talk about the fun games that he will be able to play with the new sibling. Give him a doll so that he can imitate mommy and also understand that he needs to be gentle with the new baby.
Things are about to change so it is important for you to spend some quality time with your child. Read books from the Where Babies Come From series that are gauged for the age and readiness of the sibling(s).
– Kathy Gruhn, MA CCC-SLP, author of My Baby Compass series