Preparing Siblings for a New Arrival

As parents we always worry about how our children are going to react when a new sibling arrives into the family.

Are they going to accept their new brother/sister?
Are they going to be jealous?
Are they going to start misbehaving to get attention?
Are they going to start asking questions about the conception and birth?
Are they going to regress?

These are but a few questions that I went through my self when I found out about my third pregnancy.

I wasn’t really worried about how my eldest Jak, who was 8, would react to the news but I was about my youngest Joseph who at the time was three and a half years old, old enough to understand but still a mummy’s little boy and relied on me for a lot of things.
Joseph is a confident little boy who finds it easy to make new friends, he never got upset when I left him at Pre-school or Nursery but he is very close to me. He doesn’t like anyone else to be close to me, he gets jealous when I’m cuddling Jak so he gets in between us so it’s him getting the cuddle not Jak.
Jak is a bright young boy and mature for his age so he understood why Joseph was behaving this way, so telling Jak about having a new sibling wasn’t a worry for me, I knew he would take on the role as the ‘Big Brother’ better than when Joseph arrived because he had been through it before.
With Joseph, on the other hand, I had my reservations.

Having a new sibling is a big transition for children to go through, so it’s important to prepare them, they need to know what to expect and they also need time to adjust to the idea of having a new baby in the house.

When we told our sons about the pregnancy, they was very excited. They ran around the room shouting that they was going to have a new brother or sister to play with. Although Joseph was going along with what his big brother was saying and doing I don’t think he fully understood at first. I asked him what he thought of having a new baby and he just replied with that he wanted a sister not a brother.
I thought I would give him time to come to terms with the news and to take it all in and after a couple of days the questions came

Where is the baby?
I told him it’s in my tummy and had to stay there for a while so he/she could grow and become strong ready to be born.
So he looked up my top and was looking at my belly, I told him the baby was very small and that in time my belly would grow too. I told him to think of my tummy as a house and that it was the babies home.
After being told this Joseph started telling everyone that he had a baby in his belly too.

Will it be in there for ever?
To this I told him that he would be born in 9 months time, but young children do not understand the concept of time so knowing that the baby would be born in July and that Joseph’s birthday was also in July I told him that he would have his birthday and then the baby would be born.

How will the baby come out of your belly?
Now this is the question I had no idea what to reply with so I told him there are ladies called midwives, who look after mummy and baby during the pregnancy and they will be helping the doctors to help the baby be born and that it would not hurt mummy or baby. I was lucky as this seemed to be enough information for him.

We talked as a family what it would be like to have a baby and wether the boys wanted to have a new little sister or brother.
I found a great book that we all liked to read called ‘there’s a house inside my mommy’ it’s a a cute story about a little boy whose mommy is going to have a baby and what will happen to mommy while she has the baby in her tummy, it covers morning sickness and cravings.
I wanted the boys to be involved as much as they could be during the pregnancy, they came to the first and second scan with us, which was a great and exciting experience for them to go through, they loved seeing there little brother on the screen and began to understand how the baby grew and what he needed to grow.
Joseph was always telling me to eat my greens to help me with my iron so I could be strong, bless him.
As my belly grew i encouraged the boys to feel my tummy to see if they could feel him kicking and also to put their ears on my belly to see if they could hear a heart beat.
I told them that the baby loved to hear their voices and that he got excited when they spoke to him, i said that if they spoke to him he would be able to recognise them when he was born by their voices so the boys sang songs to their little brother, said good morning to him, said good night to him and the school gates before school started Jak always gave my tummy a kiss and said he was kissing his little baby brother goodbye.
So even though the baby was not born yet he had become a big part of their everyday lives.

Activities that you can do to encourage your child/children to show an interest in your pregnancy are:
-Reading through appropriate books together about pregnancy and birth,
-Thinking of baby names together,
-Listening to the baby’s heartbeat,
-Talking about how much they are going to enjoy playing with their new sibling,
-Look through their baby pictures and talk to them about what they was like as a baby,
-Choose baby clothes together
-Ask your children to help you prepare the baby nursery with you.

Showing your children what is happening inside your tummy every month is a great way of helping them understand.
I found and used apps on my phone, but you could also do it online, where I got daily updates on how my body was changing, how the baby was developing and a count down to my EDD. The boys was very interested in reading and looking at the pictures and videos especially towards the end of my pregnancy, they were becoming excited and I knew now that they were looking forward to meeting their little brother.

Oliver was born at home while the boys were at school, so you could imagine their surprise when they entered the house to see mummy and baby laying on the sofa in the living room. They were delighted and over the moon and just kept looking at him.
Joseph seemed to have grown up over night, he took a step back, he started doing things for himself, he became the ‘Big Brother’. He wanted to help me and was always asking me if I needed anything.
I made sure that the boys were very much involved now, even more so than before, now that Oliver was here. I gave them important jobs, joseph’s was to get the nappies and to put the dirty ones into the bin and jak’s was to get me warm water in a bowl to wash him in.
5 months down the line and they still do these jobs and even more.
They love their little brother and they couldn’t have adapted any better.

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