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Prepping your child to be a big brother or sister

Although you’ve been through pregnancy and childbirth before, you may have some concerns about how your toddler or preschooler will handle your having a new baby. Helping your child understand what to expect can help smooth the transition to becoming a big brother or sister.

  • Explain what a new baby means. Point out other babies and their big siblings. Use picture books or children’s stories to help get the idea across and show your child his or her baby pictures. Explain that the baby will need attention but you’ll always have plenty of time and love for him or her.
  • Include your child in the preparations. Let your child pick out items for the new baby’s room, especially if they’ll be sharing living quarters. Bring your child to doctors’ appointments to hear the baby’s heartbeat. Plan to have the birth announcement come from the new big sibling with special cards or pictures.
  • Make major changes before the new baby arrives. Now may be a good time to, for example, begin toilet training, move from a crib to a bed, change bedrooms or start preschool—well in advance of baby’s arrival. But if your child isn’t ready, try to postpone any big changes until after the new baby is settled at home.
  • Expect some regressive behavior. Don’t be surprised if your older child regresses with a little misbehavior, thumb sucking, potty-training accidents, baby talk or asking to drink from a bottle. These problems are usually temporary.
  • Play up the role of big sibling. Have your child take a sibling preparation class and tour the hospital. Get a present to give your child on the big day. Arrange to have some special time with your child or have someone (like a grandparent) plan an outing.