For brothers and sisters it is almost something magical. There is a baby in mummy’s tummy! It is so special that it is hard to imagine. And then they have to wait another 9 months! How long is nine months? That’s tomorrow, isn’t it? “It seems like a thousand hours, shouldn’t last any longer” sang Monique Smit very appropriately on her CD for children. And as much as they are looking forward to having a baby, they may not like it when it arrives. Some children don’t want to know anything at all once the baby has arrived. Especially if you are breastfeeding, brothers and sisters will have to ‘hand over’ a lot of time to the youngest child.
How do you prepare your child(ren) for this big change?
We would like to give you some practical tips on how to prepare a brother or sister for a baby.
– Tell your child(ren) as soon as possible that a baby is coming. This will give him plenty of time to get used to the idea. Besides, you will also talk about it with others and it is not nice if your child does not know what is going on. And because your belly is growing and you may be tired more often, your child will surely realise that something is wrong. For very small children, it is better to wait a little longer, otherwise 9 months will be a very long time.
– Don’t postpone major changes until the baby is born. Move your child(ren) to another room now if you want the baby’s room to be available. If you do this after the baby has arrived, your child may feel that he has to make room for the baby and that you think the baby is more important than him. Don’t tell your child(ren) that he has to move because the baby is coming, but because he is big enough to move to another room. Maybe he can even pick out a new duvet cover himself? This will also give him time to get used to his new room without you ending up with a newborn baby and a child that does not want to sleep in his new room. Put the baby’s cot or bed in a safe place for a while.
– Always speak positively about the baby. Don’t say anything like ‘you can’t do that when the baby is born because he won’t like you’.
– Let your child(ren) get used to the fact that dad might be putting them to bed or making their sandwiches more often in the future. If this is largely your job now, it will be a big change for them later on. Especially during the week of the birth you will probably not always be able to do this.
– Involve your child(ren) as much as possible in the arrival of the baby. Take them to the midwife, pick out new clothes or nursery decorations together and talk about ‘our’ baby, because he will soon be a little bit theirs too.
– Explain a lot about the baby to your child(ren). Answer all his questions, borrow books from the library about children who are getting a brother or sister and take your child(ren) on a maternity visit to let him experience what is actually going to happen. Also tell them that babies still sleep a lot and can’t start playing right away. Look back at the baby pictures of your child(ren) so that he knows that he used to be a baby himself.
– Buy a present for your child on behalf of the baby that he will receive when the baby is born. Your child will then probably like the baby a lot better. Also ask your maternity guests if they would like to bring a little something for your oldest(s).
Make sure you don’t only talk about the baby. It is not the most important thing for your child(ren) and there are also many other fun things that occupy them.