The Best Advice On How To Transition A New Sibling Into Your Home

Did we just become best friends?

Image via Spill The Beans

One of the things I’m most nervous about when our second baby is born is Grace’s transition to having a sister. I know she’ll be the best sibling – she’s such a sweet little girl who loves playing with other kids – but I’m worried about her feeling jealous and like the baby has “taken over”, so to speak. For the past 22 months, Grace has had undivided attention, so I feel for her and any pending tough times with the transition that she may have.

To help prepare, I’ve done some research and reading on the subject matter. What’s the best way to transition a sibling into the home? Are there tricks to know about? What’s worked for others?

Here are some key things I’ve read and have found to be helpful!

  • Before the baby arrives:
    • Put off other big changes like transitioning to a toddler bed or potty training until your first born is adjusted. That way, they won’t negatively associate those milestones with the baby’s arrival.
    • Use books or applicable tv shows to help explain what being a big brother/sister means.
    • Expose your first born to babies as much as possible. Get he/she a doll to “take care of” and practice with. Show them how to love and care for the babydoll.
    • Give your child a sense of investment. Tell them its “their baby” and build up excitement as much as possible.
  • At the hospital:
    • Make the big kid the star of the show. Congratulate them, and have the nurses and family members say things like, “Congratulations! You’re so lucky to be a big brother/sister!”
    • After birth, make sure you welcome you first child with open arms. If you can, try not to be holding the baby when your first born first sees you.
    • Have pictures of them around the hospital room so they see they’re still a priority.
    • Greet your oldest with a present from the baby so they feel excited.
  • At home:
    • Involve your toddler in the care of the baby as much as possible. Give them little tasks such as helping to pick out an outfit or getting a stuffed animal.
    • Show your first born how to act. For example, teach them how to play nicely or sing to the baby. It’s all new to them so you’ll need to demonstrate how you’d like them to behave around the baby.
    • There will be times your first born will need to wait for the baby to come first, but don’t make this one sided. Point out that there are times when the baby needs to wait for the toddler too.
    • Show as much affection as possible. Keep kissing, hugging and cuddling with them. Involve the baby too!

Image via Jenn Richardson

Of course, I’ve also asked around for the advice of women dear to me who have experience in the matter. Side note: Can you tell I was a Journalism major in college? 😉  Here’s some wonderful pieces of advice, straight from those who’ve been through it!

“Before our second was born, we spent a lot of time talking with our two-and-a-half-year-old about becoming a big brother and getting him excited for his new role. He had the t-shirts and books, made a “big brother” bear at Build-a-Bear, and picked out gifts for his little brother. We also tried to make it really special for him when he came to visit us and the new baby at the hospital — he had a “big brother” badge and was congratulated by all of the nurses. When we got home, we made sure to let him know what a big helper he was and carved out special one-on-one time with him as much as possible. I also have to credit Daniel Tiger… it’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but in season two, Daniel’s world is rocked by the birth of his baby sister. We watched those episodes together and it was a great way to help a toddler understand what to expect!” – Whitney Stephens

“Be sure to not feel guilty or badly for your first child when the baby comes home. Instead, share and embrace  your excitement and happiness. Make sure you include your first child in holding and caring for the baby. Ask him/her to be part of everything. For example, ask them to sing, kiss, talk to, and read to the baby. Ask for help with bathing, getting diapers, etc. Be super positive and happy about your growing family, and your first born will too.” Blythe Moran (Thanks, Mama!)

“Try to include your first born in helping take care of the baby, and praise them for all their help. The more you let them know that you still love them as much as you did before you had the baby, the better they will feel about the baby and themselves. Just keep loving them as much as you can.” – Sandy Charron

“I would say It just takes extra time and effort to make sure you’re still giving #1 his/her own special attention.  One thing we’ve done that has helped my first born a lot is having times where we take just him out to do something. Whether that’s both my husband and I taking him, or one of us staying home, we try to do that as much as we can. It seems to help both him and us feel better!” – Kelsey Harvey

“Watching the maturity that my kids have gained through being independent and looking out for each other has been amazing to watch. The comrade starts the day you bring the baby home, and the best thing you can do is delegate small responsibilities to your oldest. Things like passing diapers or washing the baby’s feet during bath time, to always keep them connected. Our oldest, Colette, is now very in tune with our youngest, Nathalie, and they absolutely adore each other. Some great advice I received early on was when the kids ask you to play always say ‘Yes’. They are not this little forever.” – Caitlin Kang

“Don’t be fooled by the first couple weeks. It gets harder when the first born starts realizing that the new baby actually isn’t going anywhere.

Nursing time was the most challenging for us. When it was just the three of us during the day, Thomas always felt left out, which meant he would act out. So I loaded up on silly items from the dollar section at Target, put them in a bucket, and each time I sat down to nurse, he got to pick something new to play with nearby. Obviously you can’t keep this up forever, but it helped get him used to my attention being on someone else.

Also, {if possible…without sounding like the bossy mama, ha!} try to prep your visitors to acknowledge your first born first when they come over. We didn’t do this as much as we should have, but we actually do it now and notice such a difference in behavior when he feels like he’s the first person you notice. Lastly, make your first born your helper. Ask them to do things to help with the new baby, even if it’s just picking up a blanket that’s next to you. Thomas still loves when I ask him to help with Katherine -his face lights up and he takes the role so seriously.” – Kailey Gordon

How wise are these women?! I have learned so much from their advice and feel so much more prepared to tackle this transition after talking with them. Thank you!

Whether or not you’ve been through a second child transition, do you have other pieces of advice to share? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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7 thoughts on “The Best Advice On How To Transition A New Sibling Into Your Home

  1. Kailey Marie Designs

    So many memories just came flooding back as I read all of this. The transition can be so challenging, but such an exciting time for your growing family. Gracie is going to be such a great big sister! xoxo

    Reply
  2. Britney Crawley

    Oh my gosh- this is great! I love your journalistic approach with research and quotes and everything! I don’t have any kiddos yet, but I’ve nannied for plenty of families and these seem like pretty great tips and words of wisdom. Good luck! 🙂

    Reply
  3. Jennifer

    My older brother died during birth, so when my mom got pregnant with me she didn’t tell anyone for the longest time. And when she was pregnant with my sister, she never told me I was going to be a big sister because she was so worried something might happen. That was probably a mistake because I had acted out. Of course I don’t remember anything of this. The only memory I have is going to the hospital to visit. I pulled off my sister’s umbilical cord, and put a blanket over her in the car. Don’t remember this at all. I’m so close to my sister now that I feel bad that I did those things. I really wish my mom had told me and let me adjust.

    Jennifer
    Effortlessly Sophisticated

    Reply
    1. Emily | Isn't That Charming Post author

      Aw, Jennifer, thanks for sharing! Certainly brings to light the importance of helping the younger sibling transition. Of course, you were so young, and anything that happened is no one’s fault! It’s amazing you and your sister are so close now. Appreciate you sharing this!

      Reply

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