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« Modern Day Mom Conveniences | Main | According to Plan – C-Section vs. VBAC »

Preparing an Older Sibling for Baby


When I wrote Baby Z’s birth story, Lisa, one of our faithful readers had some questions about how I prepared Nic for Z’s arrival. So, here’s what we did.

Reading about Baby Siblings

The most important thing we did was read. We had several books on the subject of siblings mixed in with our other books, and they quickly became some of his favorites.

Nic's favorite books about babies.

The Berenstain Bears New Baby

I’m a Big Brother

Babies Don’t Eat Pizza (This one is meant for slightly older kids, but it has a lot of good info in it.)

Sibling Preparedness Classes

Our hospital offers a class for the young siblings of expected babies. I attended with Nic and I think it was a helpful experience. We watched a short movie about babies, did an activity where we separated things that were ok for baby to play with or not, practiced holding realistic baby dolls and made a welcome card for the new baby. I think Nic was a tad young for the class (just over 2), but I’m glad we did it.

I also attended a sibling class at our co-op preschool. The very knowledgeable teachers shared tips based on their vast knowledge of child development and on their personal experience.

Special Gift for Each Brother Nic receiving his special gift.

Many people give their child a special gift when they meet the new baby for the first time. Some people tell the child that the baby gave them the gift. My preschool teachers warned against this second practice, saying that having the baby be a gift giver may set the wrong expectations. So, we got Nic something we knew he’d love, an amazing natural rubber elephant, and told him it was from Mommy, Daddy and Baby. It was a big hit. I think it just made the hospital visit a bit more fun for him and gave him another positive association with his new brother.

About a week before Z was born, I took Nic to our favorite local book store and had him pick out a special gift for him to give baby. He chose a darling wooden rattle and he brought it to the hospital for baby. Baby's special gift from brother. Photo by Adriana Klas photography.

Lots of Attention for Big Brother

We planned for a lot of help when baby arrived. All of the grandparents and aunts pitched in to make sure Nic felt secure and loved. This was especially important since I could not pick him up  post-C-section and we were also going through a move. When everyone went home, we had a short adjustment period when he had a hard time playing by himself, but it was totally worth it.

Talk it Up

All of this is addition to a lot of talking about baby. Not incessant lecturing, just little snippets here and there. “Oh look at that cute baby in the stroller.” “Did you know that babies cry a lot? It’s how they talk.” “When baby brother comes, he is going to sleep a lot.” I think these things just helped to set up Nic’s expectations and made him comfortable with the idea of a baby.


We were very lucky that we didn’t have any jealousy issues when we brought Z home. We’re starting to see a bit now that Z has more of a personality and is demanding more interaction. I know we got off on a good foot though, and that is bound to help as things progress. (I hope!)

Reader Comments (1)

love this post, thanks Nathalee for running with my request! Love all of these ideas and the discussion you and Jennifer had on the podcast. I had lunch with a mom friend the other day who suggested--once everybody's home from the hospital--is to take turns giving attention to each child (for lack of a better phrase). e.g. let's say they both need you at the same time for different reasons... first time you ask the toddler to be patient while you take care of the newborn's needs... next time you verbally say "(insert newborn baby's name here)... your turn to be patient when I do XX with (toddler's name here)" and then you let the newborn cry a few minutes longer than usual so that the toddler feels like he/she's been given priority treatment. I unknowingly did this when we got our dog... so our son could hear that he's not the only one who gets time outs and pats on the back... so it makes sense this might work with siblings. I've also been told to give the toddler helper duties... requesting their help to grab a diaper or a blanket, etc. I love the wealth of ideas to choose from as I flesh out my sibling "strategy"... thank you ladies for sharing all of your thoughts!

January 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

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