How to Prepare My Son to Have a Little Brother or Sister

Updated on August 18, 2009
A.P. asks from Fruitland, ID
14 answers

I am expecting my second child in November and am wondering how to prepare my son for this change! He will be two years old in December. I am just wondering if you mamas have any great advice on this subject- stuff that really worked for you or did not work for you! I am at a loss so far and feeling a little overwhelmed. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you!

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answers from Denver on

I had the same concerns, and it ended up being not a problem at all. My daughter is recently two, and my son is three months. There were a few weeks of testing to see what she could get away with, but she is really loving towards him, likes to carry his paci, etc.. I know it's not advice, but I hope it eases any worries.

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answers from Denver on

My kids are also 23 months apart. The youngest is now 4 months old, so we are still dealing with our new addition to the family. I skimmed some of your responses and saw a lot of advice I was also given, but I found that some of it wasn't terribly effective with my son becuase he just wasn't old enough to "get it." He always looked at me like I was crazy when I told him there was a baby in my belly, and he seemed to take no notice of all our talk about the baby coming. To this day I don't think he understands brother and sister. When she arrived, he was happy to recieve a present at the hospital, but he didn't seem to get the idea that it was from the baby.
For the first couple of months he did his best to ignore the baby, which wasn't too hard since newborns sleep so much. As she's gotten older, I try to ask him to help me with her, which he will do because I ask, not so much because he wants to. He likes to point out her body parts and sometimes will offer her toys or his blanket, which is nice. BUT he will push her when I'm nursing her and generally get upset when he has to wait because I'm busy with her. We try to give him extra love and attention, tell the baby to wait sometimes instead of him, and generally involve him with her. That helps. I find that when he starts crawling all over me when I'm feeding her (a sure sign that he is jealous of the attention she is getting), I let him snuggle up next to me and read or watch his favorite show, but if he pushes or kicks, then he can't sit next to me and must sit on the floor- that separation is a consequence and it seems to be effective.

GOOD LUCK! It will work out.



answers from Denver on

We just worked our coming little one into everything. We talked about him/her when we listed family, when we counted boys and girls, when we prayed, when we went somewhere, everything. For us, finding out the gender and then calling baby by name was HUGE. It wasn't this abstract thing anymore, but a real person who we could talk about. My first and then first and second went with me to all of my dr appts and ultrasounds. I asked them to tell doctors and people about their little coming brother/sister. The ultrasound techs were awesome and would ask each of the kids what they wanted to see on the baby (who knew explaining that eyes via ultrasound look so different would be so hard!) and then showed them. The best thing is to live life and include talk about the baby in everything so that their already thinking about the baby as part of the family that they just can't wait to meet. Oh, and try to get your son moved off and out of the things that your new one will use (get him out of the crib as soon as possible if baby is going to use the crib, have him give up the pacifier now) so that it isn't as if the baby is taking his stuff. Make a big deal out of a new room or new bed or new sippie cup or not needing a paci. Start now and change your mindset to having 2 kids and he will follow along. Oh, and talk to him about all the great ways he is going to be able to help with or new jobs he will have (like bringing you a diaper-he can pick who is on it, or picking out what clothes baby will wear, or bringing you the burp cloth). Oh, and make or get him a big brother shirt for him to wear to the hospital. We made ours with our youngest's name on it (I found an animal that each of the older 2 liked and put a big one and a little one on the shirt and it said "I'm Asha's big sister/brother". They loved them and still want to wear them everyday. Last thing, honestly, is to relax. He will pick up on your emotions and stress and take his cues from you. Enjoy and remember that transition is tough but great on the other side!



answers from Salt Lake City on

we told the kids: Mommy has a little baby in her tummy. It starts out really tiny..and grows and grows...My tummy protects the baby until it's big enough to live outside mommy's tummy.
[Yes, my son went around for a whole month pointing to his tummy saying, "I have a baby in my tummy, too."]

When talking to my son, I'd always refer to the baby as "your baby" or "your little baby sister". "oh! Your lil baby sister just kicked my tummy - do you want to feel it? She's saying hi to you."

I talked to the baby all the time - and encouraged the kids to say hi to the baby while it was still in my tummy....and to kiss the baby (mommy's tummy) g'nite at bedtime.

Each week, we'd show the kids pictures of what the baby looked like in mommy's tummy..."can you see the baby's nose? can you see the baby's toes?"

and pictures showing how big the baby was:

After birth, whenever the baby seemed happy and was by big brother...we'd say "ooooh, she likes you!! ..See, she looks happy" and whenever the baby seemed sad we'd say, "Oh, she's just sad because she needs a new diaper or needs some food. Her tummy is hungry. Crying is how babies talk. If she didn't cry, mommy wouldn't be able to help her."...etc



answers from Salt Lake City on

When I was pregnant with my son (they are two years apart) I went to the bookstore and bought two books for my daughter. One was called Before You Were Born by Jennifer Davis. It was a fun flap book that showed how the baby was developing. The second book was called I'm a Big Sister Now by Joanna Cole(they also make a brother one). It talked about the new baby and all the things it wouldn't be able to do that the bigger sibling can do. It also talked about how much they would be needed to help with the new sibling. I think we read both books almost every night for six months. My daughter loved the books and was so excited for the new baby to get here. I think they were great resources for baby preparation.
The other thing I was very careful to keep in mind once the new baby arrived was not to tell my daughter not to touch the new baby or constantly remind her to be careful. I think sometimes we are so over-protective of the smaller babies (who are very resiliant) and create sibling rivalry by making them "off limits" to the older child. They need to feel like the baby is theirs too!



answers from Colorado Springs on

WE had a baby. Hubby was deployed at the time & I didn't always have a sitter so my older (2.5 at the time) son went to all of my doc visits w/me. One doc (I saw several in the clinic) had a ball collection to represent the different dilations but he just saw them as fun to play with. He got to hold the tape recorder when we heard Baby's heartbeat for the first time & he got to play it on the webcam for Daddy-and then we mailed the tape on. The doc let him hold the Doppler at at least one appt. He helped me pick out colors for the baby blanket I made, we unpacked the stored bottles & tiny baby stuff together... I made him as much a part of the process as possible. And when Mommy felt bad, WE felt bad-and usually had popcorn & ice cream on the couch for dinner while watching a Disney movie (he loved those nights).
My parents were visiting when Baby was born & I had them bring my older son up right away. My mom wanted to wait til the next day "when things settled down" but I wanted my older son to know he was still a part of the family & we had just added to our fun together. He got to hold "our baby" the first day & we stripped Baby down to a diaper to check him out-we compared all of his parts (fingers, toes, noses, & talked about the same pee-pee but didn't check it out) to Baby's.
After we went home, we had a few issues-one day he scratched Baby's head up w/his fingernails. He wasn't allowed to help me hold Baby til his owies healed. He got to help by getting diapers, squeezing diaper cream on my finger, handing me wipes, picking Baby's clothes.. whatever I could think of to make him part of things. I made a super effort to keep him involved since he didn't have Daddy around & Baby was taking up so much of my ("his") time.
I got a book at Babies R Us, it had a blue cover (for our new baby boy), about being the big kid w/a new baby in the house.
I don't believe in gifting all of the kids when one has a birthday, but when I had the baby, I did make sure my parents got our new big brother a gift too, mostly to keep him in the loop (guilt that Daddy was gone & he'd be losing some of my time too maybe?).
Good luck!



answers from Great Falls on

I remember having the same fear when I found out I was pregnant again....I don't want my kids to hate each other!!!
I wanted to set up a good relationship from the get-go. Funny enough my son was born the day before my daughter's third birthday. We bought my daughter's favorite toy, wrapped it all up and kept it in the hospital room with me. When my daughter came to see her baby brother the first time, we gave her the gift and told her that her baby brother had brought that with him for her. You should have seen the look in her eyes!!! It made her baby brother be "super-cool" from the get-go!!
They are now 4 and 1, they love each other, they get on each others nerves, but overall I think they will be best buddies for life.
Oh, another little piece of advice: this is a work in progress for me and my husband, but, NEVER compare them. Don't say: "See how good your brother is eating his peas?, why can't you do that?" I think that makes them resent the sibling. Like I said I am learning this sibling thing daily but those two things worked and work for me.
Good luck!



answers from Salt Lake City on

my oldest two are two years and two weeks apart, twards the end of my pregnancy (basically the third trimester) we started involving the oldest in everything to prepare for the baby- picking names (we didn't know if our second was a boy or a girl- she was the only one who 'knew' it was a girl) picking out clothes, getting the baby's room ready.
Once the baby was born, the oldest got diapers for changing time, everything like that. The side benifit of that one was that after about two weeks, she one day declaired that diapers were for babies, put her a diaper on her doll, and was pretty much potty trained from that point on.

I don't know how you feel about your son playing with dolls, but I think it might help to get him a baby doll to 'care' for. Do it when you start getting ready for your new little one. Use it as a teaching tool, and help him learn about his new little sib's needs with it.



answers from Casper on

We have also had to deal with this issue several times over the years and the things that I have found to help the most are very simple. The first it sounds like you have already done: help the older siblings understand that there is going to be a new member of the family. These other things are things that you really can't do until after the baby gets here. This is a big change for a 2 yr old to handle and there may be some acting out. But to make that transition easier have a nursing basket close to where you plan to feed the baby. Have things in there that he can only use while you feed the baby and make them things that he can do with minimal assitance from you, as you will be occupied with the baby. Have some snacks and toys, it even helps to have a few new things that he hasn't seen before as the novelty makes him interested longer. This will help him have something to do while you are feeding and make it easier for you. Another thing I have found myself doing is telling an older sibling that they have to wait for me to do something for them because I am busy with the baby. It might not make a difference to the baby if you do this, but it will to the older sibling----occasionally tell the baby that they have to wait so that you can get their older brother a drink or whatever it is. The older child thinks that is so cool that you are telling the baby to wait for something to be done for them. And if you can find another mother that has a new baby that you can show to your son and talk to him about how to hold the baby and touch the baby in appropriate ways. IF the other mother will let you, have your son hold the new baby too.....just so he can see what one feels like before his comes. Most of all just be aware that he is going to be interested in this new one and will want to be involved and to let him if you can, let him get diapers, wipes, clothes, blankets whatever it is. Let him hold the baby as much as you feel comfortable and find ways to tell him yes he can and not no. Enjoy this time as it will go by fast. Congrats.
J.--SAHM of 6



answers from Denver on

I don't have alot of actual advice but rather possibly some peace of mind for you. I have to tell you that in our house, it just wasn't a big deal. Of course, we kept telling my son that he was going to have a brother or sister and that it would be a a baby like the babies in the baby room at day care. I let him feel the baby kicking etc. We had another son on 8/8/08, so now the boys are almost 1 and 29 months old. Honestly, they are little buddies and aside from the usual scuffles over toys, there haven't been any issues of jealousy. My older son went up to his little brother the other day and hugged him and said "I love you Baboo." It was the sweetest thing ever! I almost thing all this "preparing" the older sibling for the new baby causes more problems than it prevents. Congratulations and good luck!



answers from Fort Collins on


As the other responder said, it wasn't really a big ordeal when we were preparing for the birth of our other two children. With my oldest, he was turning two when his brother was born. We told him about the baby, let him talk to and feel my belly, and he got a "big brother" shirt at the hospital and "big brother" present from grandma and grandpa. He was so loving to his baby brother right from the start - almost too much so, we would really have to watch him because he would try to pick him up and give him really big cuddles that would squish him!! He even would try to nurse his monkey lovey while I was nursing the baby!!! This would make me laugh and it would make my husband cringe! :) My husband finally said we should just give him a bottle he can use to feed his monkey and let him know that's how daddy's feed babies! It was really cute!

We pretty much did the same for our boys when our third boy was born (they were 5 1/2 and 3 1/2). We told them how important they are as big brothers, we brought them to one of the ultrasounds, they would talk to my belly, and we read a book about being a big brother. Right off the bat, they were great with the baby!! Again, so much love there - we've not had any problems with jealousy at all.

I do agree that sometimes people can go overboard with preparation and can cause more problems than if a big deal wasn't really made about it all. Definitely, the kids should be included in the process of preparing for the baby and helping take care of the baby (ie. reading books, helping decorate the baby room, maybe giving them a small gift after the baby is born, letting them help you by getting a diaper, blanket, or bottle for the baby). I think this makes the older siblings feel important too!

Good luck with everything!!



answers from Provo on

I did this with my transition from 1 to 2 and then for my thierd and it worked like a charm.
The first thing I did is tell my first daughter that the baby loved her. We had this tradition at night that we would sit on her bed and I would say " mommy loves you, daddy loves you, grandma...grandpa...all of the relatives including the cat and dog and then the baby loves her the most."
The second thing we did is that we had the baby bring a gift to the older child or children. We packed it with our hospital stuff so that when dad brought the kids to the hospital for the first time to see the baby there were gifts wrapped in packages for them to open.
The last thing that we did was we asked all of the people that came to see the new little one to go to our older child first and then ask them to show off their new little sibling. That way the baby was my daughters and she had a bit of ownership and she was getting attention at the same time.
I know it can go really well. good luck



answers from Salt Lake City on

i had my second daughter when my first was 2 and i was always concerned that she didnt feel left out or like someone was taking her "space" we were lucky enough to have a big sister class offered through the hospital where the nurses came and taught the kids about being a big brother/sister, by teaching them how to hold a baby, how to change a diaper. talking about washing hands etc. it was amazing and really helped make my daughter feel special. as i was getting ready for the hospital i wanted to help her not be scared but excited about the whole thing so we got her a "big sister" shirt and some slippers to wear when she came to the hospital to see me. Its been two years since i had my baby and what helps now to make the older one still feel important and not blocked out is making sure i spent time with her alone-so i try to do it during nap time etc. good luck-youll do amazing!



answers from Salt Lake City on

I didn't get a chance to read any of your other responses. But my oldest son was 4 years old when we decided to have our second. But we just started talking about the baby. I took him to my doctors appointments a couple of times because we wanted him to hear the heartbeat of his little brother. We called the baby in my tummy by the name we picked out. We just talked about the baby all the time. I am not sure when you are from but I delivered at the Intermountain Medical Center and they had a sibling course. I enrolled my son in the class and it was maybe 1 to 1 1/2 long at the hospital. They watch a video, they get a sack of goodies, they learn to wrap their doll or stuff animal in a blanket and how to care for it. Then they took them on the tour of the labor and delivery so they kids would get a little sense of where their mommies would be. I think it really helped my son. I too delivered in November last year, so the class I took my son to was September (I think). I would recommend you looking into something like that. Make sure you make time for your son when the baby comes. They sometimes feel like they are pushed away. Good luck.

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