Being A Big Brother Or Sister
Helping children prepare and adjust to a new baby. Storyberries offers free children's books and parenting tips to help kids feel good about a new baby in the family.
The arrival of a baby is a joyful occasion for parents who want to expand their family. Parents also often wonder whether the newborn will be received in such a joyful way by the other children. A lot depends on the age of the siblings. Some children look forward to having a baby sibling, while others may feel doubtful or jealous. Sometimes how children feel before the arrival of the baby can be different to how they feel afterwards (the reality of living with a baby may not match their expectation!), and of course children feel lots of different emotions each day. Each member who joins the family generates a change, so it’s good be aware, to best prepare the family.
It may happen that children show regressive or more infantile behaviour, such as peeing or pooping, wanting to go back to the bottle, or wanting to sleep with their parents. They may also be more irritable, have a low tolerance for frustration, seem less patient and be more demanding of care. It is important to understand that these are all symptoms of feeling vulnerable and displaced, so it helps to be empathetic and understanding.
When kids are dealing with a new situation outside of their experience, they need the adults around them to guide them to a place of understanding. Storyberries offers free online children’s books, and parenting tips, to help kids feel good about a new baby in the family.
Sharing the newsIt is important the child learns news of the new baby in a simple, straightforward way from the parents. Ideally they would hear this before the rest of the family so they feel special. You can be creative. Some parents use gifts (for example a balloon or a shirt with the announcement: “big brother’ or ‘big sister’)
Enjoying the baby before birthIn order for your kid to begin to understand that the little brother is a child just like him, it is advisable to encourage him to feel the baby’s kicks or listen to his heartbeat. The child may like to talk to the baby or tell them stories.
Preparing for baby togetherInvolve the child in preparing for the baby’s arrival. You could sit together to choose a name. Prepare the baby’s room and purchases in advance, so that the changes take place little by little.
Lots of reassuranceInvite the older child to express how they feel, and reassure them that its okay to say if they feel unsure or unhappy. Create special moments to be with just them and reassure them that after the baby is born, they will still be loved exactly the same as before, even though you can’t spend all your time with them.
After baby is bornWhen the baby is born, take the child as soon as possible so that she can check that Mum is well and meet the new baby. That first contact is very important. If the older child feels displaced or ignored it will be difficult to reverse the feeling.
Keep your arms free to hug the older child. If the baby is calm they can stay in their crib, or be held by another family member so you can show love to the older one. Depending on his age, you can then let them caress or hold the baby (with support) to satisfy their curiosity.
Ask for help, so you can self care
Take care of yourself, being very kind and gentle with how you feel. Having a new baby is a big adjustment for everyone, not just for the older child. Ask friends or neighbours for help where you can, so you can take time out for yourself, and also have happy quality time with your older children. People love to help out.
Old and new activitiesWhere possible, help the older child to keep their regular routine, so they get to go to school, see their friends or go to their clubs.
Also, try to involve them in the care of the little one. Depending on their age, they might help prepare the baby’s bath or bring you things to change the diaper. Praise and encouragement will help the older child feel good about their new role, and will be more likely to take on their new responsibilities happily.
Rusty and MeIt is very natural for children to feel jealous when there is a new baby in the family. Everyone is so excited, and giving so much attention to the new arrival! In this story, Rusty the old school bus feels jealous and insecure when a shiny new car arrives in town.
Baby Brother SurpriseLittle Princess Josie has had a dream life, with parents who give her adoring attention. One day she gets a shock when they bring home baby Alfie. Josie feels jealous and lonely, but she decides she doesn’t want Alfie to be turned into a slug! A gorgeous story to share.
I Love my MomIn this delightful short story, a little girl describes all the things she loves about her mum – a beautiful reminder of family love. This book may be helpful for a new sibling to encourage them to be kind and loving like Mom.
In Search of a BabyIn this story for 7-12 year olds, Meg becomes lost when she runs away, looking for a baby in the forest. She finds Mr and Mrs Stone, who gently help her to feel more reassured about her new baby brother back at home.
Article by Luzmery M. Romero Gamboa and Fleur Rodgers
Luzmery works in the area of clinical psychology as a psychotherapist for children, adolescents and families. Since 2016, she has run a Psychological Center in Venezuela called Psicoluz. She offers workshop facilitations to parents, is involved in recreational activities for children, and has been working as a freelancer since 2017 performing online psychotherapy.
Fleur is a meditation teacher in France and uses a compassion and loving-kindness based approach to meditation and slow-minded living. Fleur posts regularly to Instagram @rodgers.fleur . She has two children, is a qualified teacher in adult education and is the founder of Timeouttobreathe.com