Properly preparing a firstborn child for a newborn’s arrival varies based on your child’s age. But you can use these three general tips to get started.
- Tell your firstborn what to expect. Use child-friendly language to explain the changes mommy will experience as the baby grows insider her. Help your firstborn understand that, when baby is born, mom won’t be home from the hospital right away, and that your firstborn will need to be gentle with her when she does come home. Explain that the infant won’t be a playmate and describe what that means—that babies will spend most of their time crying and sleeping during infancy.
- Show your firstborn how he or she can help. “Present it in a way that shows your firstborn will be getting things for mom and dad—not necessarily for the baby—to help reduce feelings of jealousy,” says Phyllis Young, RN, childbirth educator and lactation consultant with Grand View Health. Firstborn children can assist by getting diapers, showing the baby toys, drawing pictures, singing songs and smiling for baby. “Babies will smile at older siblings before they smile at their parents,” Young says.
- Help your firstborn celebrate himself (or herself). Remind your firstborn of the special talents he or she has that make her stand out from the baby. “For example, older siblings can eat their favorite foods, play outside, and do other things that babies can’t,” Young says.
Get more tips. Attend the free Super Siblings class on Aug. 7 (6:30 p.m.) at Grand View Health. Designed for expecting parents and children ages 3-10, the class helps future big brothers or sisters learn about baby basics and newborn care through stories and activities. Children receive a Super Sibling certificate after completing the class. Participants will also tour the Birth and Family Center at Grand View Health. Register now.