Preparing Your Older Child or Teen for a New Baby

8 Ways to Help Them Prepare for a New Sibling

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There are a ton of articles available for how to prepare younger kids for a new baby. Becoming a sibling is a huge milestone. When the kids are younger they may have a harder time grasping many of the concepts that occur with welcoming a new sibling.

This means that if you have an elementary school aged child or above, you may have very different needs when it comes to preparing them to be a big brother or a sister.

(I do want to note that these tips and tricks hold true, even if they already have younger brothers or sisters around.)

  1. Remember that they aren’t a baby anymore.

    This means that you will want to watch over simplifying everything you do when you’re talking about the newest sibling. It can become very easy to talk down to a child about pregnancy, birth, and new babies, but keep in mind, they will be dealing with issues that are on par with their age, regardless of the age of the baby.
  2. Ask how they feel, often.

    It is important to ask them how they are feeling about having a new baby. It might be specific questions about how it will change their lives – will they have to change rooms? move houses? change schools? These can be much bigger deals for older children. It is also important to note here that talking about their feelings about the new baby might have them honestly telling you things that maybe you do not want to hear or find upsetting. “I don’t want a new baby!” This is not open for their debate, but it is still important to hear what they are saying and why. Remember, it is more difficult for them to imagine a baby in their lives until the baby arrives.
  1. Be prepared for Stork Talk 201.

    The explanations that you used for explaining how you got pregnant drastically change the older the child gets. An early elementary school kid may only have a working knowledge of what goes on, but if you have a teen or older child who has already had the talk, started their period, or had sex education in school – be prepared for more explicit questions and be prepared with answers. There are some good books available to help you.
  1. Pregnant teen watch.

    This was something that really surprised us after our eighth baby was born. We would go out as a family and if my oldest daughter or son were carrying the baby, they were often asked by strangers if they were the parent. This caused quite a stir. Be cognizant of this as you have your older children with the new baby in public. Also talk to them about their feelings.
  2. Do you know what their classmates are saying?

    Don’t hesitate to ask in a casual way. Some kids never hear word one, while other kids get a lot of questions asked, and others are teased. “Hey John, we know what YOUR parents have been up to…” Just be willing to listen.
  3. It’s not all bad.

    Having an older child can make pregnancy much more interesting. Offer to take them with you to visit the midwife or doctor. Let them bring their own questions. This can help them feel a part of the process. It’s also a chance to have some poignant discussions about pregnancy, parenting, and life.
  4. Older children may want to come to the birth.

     This is a call that only you can make as a family. I am very pro-children at birth as it has worked out really well in my family. My now 17 year old son likes to talk about how he is so ready to be the partner of someone giving birth and he can’t wait to find the right person to share his amazing talents. He loved being there and had a lot of questions both before and after. He also had the complete ability to leave whenever he wanted or needed, and I felt comfortable asking him to leave had it come to that.
  1. Some families may have additional issues.

    There might be other issues or questions that you didn’t anticipate as a part of the process. For example, if you have been fighting with secondary infertility and it has taken you awhile, your child may ask you questions about secondary infertility or fertility in general. If you are a blended family, your child may want to know exactly how they are related to the baby. Be sure to hop in on this discussion yourself, don’t let others do it for you.

In the end, remember, older kids have different needs. These will vary according to both their age and experience level. You both need to be kind to one another and realize that there is room to grow and time to do it!

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