How to Prepare Your Child for Another Baby

Family Matters on 07.18.12
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My daughter has developed a fairly large jealous streak. If we're showing some attention to the dogs, she'll run over and shout, "No! My Daddy, My Mommy!" If we so much as speak to another child, she gets angry. And heaven forbid, if I hold a friend's newborn baby, she practically turns green.

I would imagine that this is totally normal toddler behavior and I am certainly not the first parent in the world to witness this, but it got me thinking: As my husband and I are talking about the possibility of extending our family, I wonder how my girl would handle bringing a baby into the house.

Depending on the age of your child, there are certain steps you can take to have a smoother transition. That's not to say that there won't be some jealousy lingering about. After all, your first child has been the center of your universe for his or her entire life. When that changes, it can be scary, lonely, and frustrating. But here are some things you can do to help lessen the anxiety.

Be Honest

Be upfront with your child(ren) about the impending arrival of a new little one. Explain to them when the baby will be here, and what it will be like when he or she comes home from the hospital. You don't have to go into great specifics about where babies come from; you can simply let their questions guide the information you give. If they want to know more, believe me, they'll ask.

Involve Them

Let your child help in any way he or she can. Practice feeding, holding, and changing the baby (using a doll). Ask your child's opinion on naming the new bundle of joy. While you probably won't use any of the names, it might be good for a laugh and your child will feel like he or she is in on the decision-making. You can also let your child come along to a doctor's appointment so he or she can hear the baby's heartbeat.

Educate Them

Again, you don't have to go into great detail here (unless they ask), but don't gloss over the situation by simply saying a baby is coming to live with us. Read (age-appropriate) books to them, and let them ask questions. Look through his or her baby pictures together, so your child will know what to expect. Visit with friends who have recently had a new baby, and let your child get a feel for what's coming. Many hospitals also offer a sibling class for young children to help prepare them.

Kids are resilient creatures, and many will adapt just fine. Sure, there will be hiccups, but as long as you're open, honest, and patient, you'll get there. And eventually, your kids will probably be the best of friends and you'll be the one who feels left out.

Have any of you been through this before? How did you handle it?

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