Helping Siblings Welcome A New Baby

Hopkins ECFE helps you celebrate the new baby in your house by offering a Baby Shower! This evening event provides an opportunity to learn about early literacy strategies, share strategies for using baby sign language and enjoy time with other parents who know exactly how tired and how excited you are.

If interested in registering yourself and your child (age birth through 15 months), please call Kathryn at 952.988.5000.

A new baby always brings excitement and questions in equal measure. When your baby is the second or third child in a household, some of the initial questions of parenthood have already been answered, but this new sibling will bring with her a new set of experiences for all family members to get used to.

The early childhood staff at Hopkins has offered to “shower” you with advice about helping all the siblings in your newly expanded family get along smoothly. With a keen understanding of the limited time available to parents of a new baby, we will format this to prioritize efficient reading.

When baby is really young:
• When older siblings come to the hospital to visit, remember they are coming to see the parent, not the baby. Greet your older children with wide open arms, try not to be holding baby when they arrive.
• Pull out the pictures of your older children when they were babies. Tell them stories about what it was like when they were babies. Talk about what you did for them when they were babies.
• When nursing or bottle feeding your baby, use this time to read a story or tell a story to your older siblings. Make feeding time a time for family togetherness.
• Provide time for your older sibling to “act out” their desire to be younger again. Older children often regress when faced with a new child. Provide an opportunity to safely do this.
• Give the older sibling a job to do to help with the baby. For instance, the older sibling can be in charge of finding the rattle, or getting a diaper. Talk to the older sibling about how grown up he is and how helpful he is to be doing this job.
• A young child attaches and bonds with a younger sibling through touch. For this reason, allow the older sibling to touch the baby. Monitor the touches to ensure safety, but allow touch and interaction to occur.

As baby gets older:
• Establish a time with older siblings that are one-to-one time, without the baby. This special time with your child–even if it is simply ½ hour–can ease the times when you need to focus solely on your baby.
• Don’t “attach” requests to the baby. For instance, don’t make the request for older children to be quiet “because the baby is sleeping.” Instead request simply that they use their inside voices.
• When an older sibling is inappropriate with the baby, hold the baby in your arms and talk to the baby about why she might not like it. For instance, if an older sibling hits his baby sibling, hold the baby and say “You don’t like to be hit because it hurts you and scares you. You want to be touched gently so you don’t get scared.” Talk to baby rather than disciplining the older child.
• Find opportunities to give your older child the impression that the baby has to wait for the older one to get his needs met. For instance, if your older child would like you to read a story–even if the baby is completely content with what she is doing at that time–be sure to stop and tell the baby “Baby, you need to wait now while I read a story.” The older child hears that his parent is putting his needs before baby. This is very satisfying to the older sibling who is very often hearing that it is his needs that have to wait while baby is attended to.
• Teach the older child how to interact with baby. Give basic, child appropriate information about what baby needs. For example, talk about baby needing gentle touches, baby often being satisfied to give up a toy if it is replaced with another, using distraction as a means of helping baby move from one activity to another
• Be an advocate for the relationship between your children. Teach all of your children skills for getting along with each other, and interrupt children if play becomes hurtful or inappropriate. Children learn how to get along when their parents teach the skills for cooperation. Children do not learn this instinctively.

Books for Children:
1. On Mothers Lap by Ann Herbert Scott
2. Poor Carl by Nancy Carlson
3. The New Baby by Mr. Rogers
4. The New Baby at Your House by Joanna Cole

Books for Parents:
1. Welcoming Your Second Baby by Vicki Lansky
2. Loving Each One Best by Nancy Samalin

One Response

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