What I'm about to share is wisdom passed down from a good friend of mine and also tested through the addition of each sibling to our family. Preparing for a new addition is a family affair so it's important to consider how to share this exciting news with the big sister(s) or big brother(s). Here are steps leading up to the baby's arrival and some ideas for that first meeting:
Share the News in a way that Incorporates the Siblings
When and how to share the details of your new arrival with siblings is a deeply personal decision; however, in our family, we waited until the end of the first trimester to share with our other children given it seemed like the safest time to share.
My daughter was under 2 when we found out we were expecting again, but we had her give my parents a box of doughnuts that revealed we would be adding another baby. We also allowed our daughters to pop a balloon in front of our family that revealed we were adding a final addition to our family. Chances are when you can involve them in the news they will feel more engaged with the entire process.
Read Books about Adding a Baby
Here are a few books that I have enjoyed reading to my littles to help them warm up to the idea of a new sibling.
This book was perfect to tell our oldest daughter we were adding a baby brother! I loved that the girl in this book was older and more relatable for her.
I grew up with Berenstain Bear books so it just seemed right to share these books with my kids. I love that these books cover topics like sibling jealousy and other emotions that we can discuss with our kids as our families grow.
Watch a Show about Welcoming a New Baby
Daniel Tiger is our go-to for this! The episode is called Meet the New Baby and it does an excellent job of introducing Daniel to his new sister Ma
Arthur's Baby is another episode that deals with the mixed emotions Arthur has as a new sibling is added to the family.
Have Baby Give a Gift to the New Sibling(s)
Books, a new stuffy, a keepsake like jewelry or a picture frame, or my personal favorite a baby doll are all great items for the new baby to gift to the new sibling(s). It doesn’t have to cost a lot honestly, it is the thought that counts. When my oldest daughter first became a big sister we gifted her a Bitty Baby from her little sister. She loved holding her baby while Mommy held her little sister.
This Bitty Baby is very loved and when we finally welcomed a little boy as the final addition to our family we again gifted each girl with a Melissa and Doug boy baby doll. These dolls get fed, swaddled, and loved just as much as baby brother! I love that the American Girl Bitty Baby has so many diverse options to match the features of your family. Finally, framing a picture of each big sister or big brother meeting their new sibling is a precious gift and one that makes a perfect keepsake forever.
Have your Hands Free when the Sibling Meets the New Baby
This is sage advice from my girlfriend. Have Dad hold the baby or have the baby in a bassinet or swing when your older child comes to meet them for the first time. You’ve likely been away from your older children while laboring and welcoming the new baby so having your hands free to hold, hug, and welcome the sibling(s) is just a great way to kick off the introduction. After the greeting and catching up with the new sibling(s) then pick up the baby and allow the introduction to happen organically.
Take it Day by Day
Don't force the interactions! My oldest daughter was 22 months when we welcomed her little sister and she was way more excited to have me back home than to welcome her little sister. My wise friend had warned me about this, so I wasn't alarmed and after a few more days my daughter began taking more interest in her little sister. Her initially chilly reaction became a warm loving embrace and the desire to hold and kiss her baby sister. Fast forward, to adding a baby boy to our family and he came home to three very eager, seasoned big sisters who smother him in kisses and pass him around like a football.
Those early days seriously fly by, but if you take it slow with introducing both the idea of a new sibling and the initial meeting then I truly feel everything will go smoothly. Finally, make sure you document those first interactions with photos and videos because as much as you think you'll remember them it's always better to have them documented.