Transitioning Your Children to Become Older Siblings with Ease

By Lindsey Johnson

Adding a new member to the family is a big transition for older children. They sometimes feel left out or question their place in the new family dynamic. It is a time of change for the whole family but there are some tactics to employ that may help ease the uncertainty when a child is becoming the older sibling.

Delay Other Major Changes

A new baby is a major disruption to the daily routine and family flow. This will take a period of adjustment for all family members. This is not the ideal time to make other major changes such as introducing potty training, transitioning to a toddler bed, starting daycare for the first time, or taking away the pacifier. If you are ready to make these changes, it might be best to do it as far as possible before the birth of the baby or wait a few months after the baby’s arrival.

Involve Older Children in Preparations and Care

Nemours Children’s Health System recommends involving older children in the preparations for the new baby. Allowing them to help make decisions about the nursery, providing input on the name, or if possible, attending a prenatal appointment or ultrasound can help them feel included. Mayo Clinic also suggests enrolling in a sibling class at the hospital, preparing your child for their arrangements when the baby arrives, and explaining to them that new babies spend most of their time crying, sleeping, and eating.

Create Special Time with Older Children

When the new baby arrives, parents will be inundated with newborn care. However, it is very important to create some special time with older children so they feel included. Enlist help from family and friends to watch the baby for a short time so you can create a new memory with your older children. Also utilize your support network to help with care for your older child. Keep in mind that your children crave your attention so carving out time dedicated solely to them, regardless of activity, will speak volumes to them.

Parents Share Some of Their Tried and True Approaches for Introducing a New Member to the Family

Jeremy Clements’ Story

Jeremy Clements, father of Jonny 12, Emma 10, Lucas 6, and Andrew 3, shares how they introduced the new babies to their older children. “We started conditioning our children for the arrival of a baby brother/sister early on.

We talked about how their mother’s belly was growing and how they were once in there too, which was mind blowing for them, in a good way. Every week we would look at the progress on and tell the kids how big the baby was, which was exciting for them. We encouraged them to touch their mom’s belly and talk to the baby. We included them in announcing to the world that they were going to be a big brother/sister and we let them feel like they were a part of the process by letting them have input in the final selection of names, getting special toys just from them and giving them special tasks they could do to help take care of their baby. I think communicating with the kids and incorporating them into the process was very important for their acceptance of the changes,” says Clements.

Teneill Russell’s Story

Teneill Russell, mother of Pepper 11, Lincoln 9, and Lucia 6, states, “My kids loved having a baby in the house. I tried to have my older kid(s) be involved in decisions when possible. For example, my son picked out what color carseat to get for my youngest. My oldest picked out the clothes that her baby sister wore home from the hospital. She was also able to spend a couple hours alone at the hospital with the baby and I, just us three girls. Six years later, she still remembers that as being really special. We also tried to make sure the older kids weren’t feeling neglected. My husband spent extra time with them the first few months, in part to give the baby and I some peace and quiet but also to help them feel loved, wanted, and to have fun.”

The most important thing to consider when adding a new family member is to make sure older children feel involved. It is also critical to make sure that they feel their place in the family is not threatened. Quality time is the most effective way to ensure a smooth transition to the new family dynamic.

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