Preparing your child for the birth of a sibling can be both fun and challenging. Please encourage your child to ask questions and use their questions as a guide for giving information. Pregnancy should be discussed in simple words that make sense to the child. For example, preschoolers have trouble understanding the concept of time. It is helpful to explain when the baby will arrive in terms of the seasons, such as “the baby will arrive when it is hot and you will be swimming outside.”
If your child asks questions which are difficult to answer, take a breath, and tell them they have asked “wonderful questions” and you will get back to them. As we all know, children often leave adults speechless due to the directness of their questions. It is important to answer and validate their questions with simple, straightforward answers. If you feel stuck, you can always use paper and crayons to explain your thoughts.
There are many activities you can use to prepare your child for your new family addition:
1. Sit down together as a family and look at baby pictures of your child.
2. Visit family and friends with infants.
3. Ask the child to help with baby names.
4. Take your child to your OB/GYN’s office to hear the baby’s heartbeat.
5. Ask your child to help with preparation for the sibling’s birth i.e. Picking out toys and appropriate clothes.
When you are closer to birth, explain the hospitalization and plans so your child will know what to expect. We do encourage siblings to visit after birth at The Family Birthing Center as long as they are not ill.
Another option is to get a stuffed animal, or doll, prior to your birth and give it to your child when he/she visits as a gift from the new sibling. Your child can participate in feeding and other childcare skills with their new doll or stuffed animal and mirror your interactions with their new brother or sister.