Introducing a new sibling can be an exciting time. But it can also be a difficult time of transition for young children as they adapt to this big change in their lives. For this reason, planning and thinking about how you can support your child with the arrival of a new sibling will take a little bit of time and consideration.
Every child is different and all children will cope and manage with life’s changes in a different way. But all will need some support.
We’re joined by guest expert Julie Pearson (Early Years Development Manager at the Early Years Alliance), to help you to explore how you can help your child with this change, sharing tips and ideas that you can easily use in the home.
Using Books And Stories
Sharing books can be a good way to talk about the arrival of a new baby, and there are some great books available, such as:
- I’m big now – by Anthea Simmons
- My sister is an alien – by Rachel Bright
- The new small person – by Lauren Child
Why not snuggle up and share a story, allow your child time to ask questions. This will also be some great one-to-one time with your child. You could also spend some time looking at photographs of your child when they were a baby and share stories about when they were younger. Talking about what they were like as babies will remind them that they were once tiny too.
Get Them Involved
Young children love to help, so try to think of ways to get them involved. This might include bringing you baby wipes, reading the baby a story or even singing nursery rhymes. You can use a baby doll or teddy to practice with before the baby arrives or get involved in role play pretending to change the baby’s nappy or take them for a walk. This will help your child to become familiar with what might happen when the baby is born.
Manage Expectations Carefully
While, as adults, we talk about the arrival of a new baby as being exciting, for a child, it may not feel quite the same way. So talk to them about what to expect. For example, how the baby will cry. This way, they understand what might happen when the baby comes home.
Think About The Little Changes
The arrival of a new sibling might mean some changes in the home. For example, your older child may be moving out of the nursery and into a different room, or changing from a cot into a bed. When making these adaptions, make sure they are done gradually. And try to avoid mentioning the baby when implementing these changes. You don’t want your older child to feel like they are being replaced.
Talk To Your Child’s Key Person
If your older child attends an early education setting, speak to their key person (the named individual responsible for your child). When helping children with big changes, everyone must be on the same page. This way, your child can feel safe and supported.
When The Baby Arrives
It is useful to spend some time considering how you will manage the first time they meet their new brother or sister. You may have been separated for a while when the baby is born. When they come to visit, try to have your arms free with baby in their cot, for example. This way you are ready to embrace your older child with a big hug before introducing them to their new sibling.
Finally, remember it might take some time for your child to adjust after introducing a new sibling, so follow your child’s lead and go at their pace.
For more FREE information, advice and tips on supporting your child’s early learning and development, visit the Early Years Alliance’s Family corner website. Family Corner is the family arm of the Early Years Alliance, offering expert articles, activity ideas and online learning sessions on key areas of child development such as learning through play, communication, behaviour, health, nutrition and wellbeing.
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