Arrival times

Everyone gets excited when a new baby is on the way, but sometimes there's a little person who isn't very impressed. Brothers and sisters can sometimes feel a bit put out that a new arrival means less attention for them.

When the new baby arrives, it’s only natural that parents will focus a lot of attention on the newborn and sometimes forget that up until baby arrived, there was another child (or more), who now might feel they are missing out. Here are some tips to help your older child through the transition:

  • It’s a good idea to talk to your child about their new brother or sister as early in the pregnancy as you can. They might not be able to comprehend that it won’t arrive for a while so rather than give dates, tell them which season it will arrive in.

  • Be sure to answer any questions they may have. Your child will justifiably be quite confused about how the new baby turned up, and may be very interested. This doesn’t mean it’s time for sex education, but try to be as honest as you can for their age. Do not resort to telling them any nonsense about storks.

  • To help your child understand what is going to happen when the baby arrives, go through pictures you have of their own arrival, and talk them through what happened. Tell stories about how Grandma cried, and how you forgot to pack a hat for him or her to wear home. This helps place what your child might see as a very unrealistic thing into a realistic setting they can understand.

  • Include your child wherever possible, for example, in visits to the doctor to hear the heartbeat, thinking up baby names, or even packing your bag for the hospital.

  • If you have friends or family with a young baby, try to spend some time with them and encourage your child to learn how to hold the baby and cuddle it. Let them watch the baby being fed and changed so that they get used to these activities before the due date.

  • If your child expresses concerns about the new arrival, take them seriously. older children might talk about their fears that the baby might get sick, or that something might go wrong. Don’t just dismiss this – instead, talk your child through why the baby will be okay.

  • Plan to keep your child’s routines as regular as possible when you go into hospital to have the baby. Also, plan to let him or her visit you as soon as possible after the baby is born, to make sure they feel included. It’s good to make sure there are no other visitors around when this happens, so that you can focus your attention on them and your new arrival.

  • Some parents have a present at the hospital to give to the older child from the new baby. Encourage grandparents and other family and friends to give the older child a little present as well so that they don’t feel left out.

  • If your child is about to make some big changes such as potty training, giving up a dummy or moving out of the now-needed cot to a bed, try to make sure these changes have been made well before the baby arrives.

  • When you’re back home, let your child help as much as they can to look after the baby. They can fetch nappies and towels and hold things for you. Sometimes it might mean the job takes a little longer, but it’s worth it to help your child interact with the baby in a positive way.

  • It would be great to spend some alone time with your child, but many new mums find it difficult. Just in case, prime your partner and grandparents to make a special effort to include them in activities. Remember to give them lots of cuddles and attention when you have the energy.

  • When other friends and family visit, make sure you include your other child in the conversation, pointing out a painting they have done or how helpful they have been lately. It’s not all about the baby, and having some attention paid to them will help your child feel less left out.

  • Some kids will display behaviour that’s not ideal. Some revert to baby talk, others test limits. Don’t bend rules or accept bad behaviour. Instead, spend more time with your child and try to find ways to help them express how they’re feeling, such as by drawing or writing. Encourage them to talk to you when they are feeling sad, rather than behaving badly.

Related stories

Get The Australian Woman’s Weekly NZ home delivered!  

Subscribe and save up to 38% on a magazine subscription.