Brothers and Sisters

boy with sibling in hospital

Brothers and sisters are welcome through the day and evening.  Although, big brothers and sisters are often excited to see their new sibling, it is important to think about their age and attention span when planning hospital visits. Here are some suggestions to help your child’s acceptance of the new baby.

Before the birth of the baby

  • Make the baby a reality by allowing your child to feel the baby moving or kicking in their mother’s abdomen.
  • Visit a new baby. 
  • Refer to the new addition as “our baby” so your child has a sense that the baby is also his/hers, not just yours.
  • Arrange for your child to see a mother nursing her baby.
  • Make a photo album of your child’s own development from infancy to present time.
  • It’s best to make changes affecting your child well in advance of the baby’s arrival.
  • Present a change from crib to bed as getting a new bed, rather than giving up the crib for the baby.
young girl listens to mom's belly
  • Get a baby doll for your child (preferably one that can be bathed).
  • One excellent way to prepare your older child for a new baby’s arrival is by reading books that decribe what it  is like to have a new baby in the house (available at most public libraries).
  • Prepare your child for the fact that mummy’s time and attention will be divided when the baby arrives. Your partner can take over some tasks, gradually, including dressing your child, taking over at bedtime and putting your child to bed. It is especially important for your partner to spend extra time with your child.
  • Suggest to your child that the baby might cry a lot in the first few weeks.
  • Point out that is take a long time for a baby to grow into a playmate and that babies do not do much at first.
  • Help your child get to know a babysitter.

During your hospital stay

  • Put mother’s picture or a family group picture in your child’s room.
  • Call from the hospital.
  • Tape stories or messages to be played while you’re away.
  • Bring a gift for your child with you to the hospital (avoid saying it’s from the baby).
  • Have your child come to the hospital to visit.

At home

  • Schedule time alone with your child.
  • Organize activities to occupy the new big brother or sister while you’re nursing
    • watching TV or video
    • colouring
    • building blocks
  • Talk to your child while caring for your baby.
  • It’s ok to be jealous — give your child an opportunity to express their feelings.
  • It’s normal to regress in toilet training —  be patient!.
  • Express your love for your child often.
  • Allow your child to help according to his/her desire and ability.