Your child is about to become a big brother or sister. How do you help him or her adjust to a new baby in the house? Le Bonheur Pediatrician Elisha McCoy, MD, shares some helpful tips for expecting families.

Children of different ages respond differently to the news of a new sibling. Share the news with the older child based on his or her age. For instance, wait to tell younger children until you start to show. Tell an older child when you are planning to tell family and friends or once you start buying things for the new baby.

Here are some ways to share the big news:

Sharing the news

  • Books about babies and being a big brother or sister can help with explanations. Be honest, and keep the words simple.
  • When giving them information about the due date, use timing they are used to (for instance, a holiday or summer break).
  • Depending on your child’s age, tell him or her what to expect when the baby arrives. (“The baby will be cute and fun, but he or she will not be able to be a playmate immediately. The new baby will take up some of ‘mommy’s’ time.”)
  • Share the excitement of the new baby with your child, as some of this may rub off. Tell them they will be the big brother or big sister and how special that will be.

Preparing for the arrival

  • Allow your child to be involved in preparations…picking out clothing, blankets, toys, etc.
  • Try to spend extra time with your child prior to the arrival of the new baby.
  • Prepare the child for your hospitalization by verbally telling them, but also make plans for family or a friend to stay with the child.
  • Time other major changes, like potty training or changing from crib to bed, for before the baby arrives or after baby has settled into the new family.
  • Once the baby arrives, allow your child to help care for the baby (like assisting with feeding or diaper changes, for example) if he or she child is old enough.
  • Make sure that special time is reserved for you to spend with the child after the new baby’s arrival.