Introducing your child to her sibling

No matter how excited your child was about having a sibling, you may well be concerned about their reaction when they see this newcomer to the family in the flesh. Here’s how to handle that first meeting.

There’s no way around it: introducing your child to her new sibling is difficult. No matter how many times you have assured her that you will love her just the same as always, and that she is just as important as the baby, it’s unavoidable that she’ll feel a little displaced. After all, the family dynamic – the very thing that makes her feel safe and secure – is about to change dramatically.

One of the most powerful actions you can take to reduce this feeling of displacement is to make sure that you’re not holding the baby during that very first meeting. This sends out a strong signal, reassuring your child that she hasn’t been replaced.

For the same reason, don’t tell her that she’s now the ‘big sister’, and that it’s her job to be responsible. More than anything, she needs to know that she is also still your baby, and that you will be her mom just as you always have been.

It may also help if you have a gift, ‘chosen’ by the baby, to hand her – even the most fearful hearts can’t help but soften at the sight of a present! You can up the excitement factor even more by helping your child to select a pressie for her new sib, so that the exchange becomes something of an occasion.

Once you’re home

Tricky though that first meeting may be, being in the hospital has a distinct advantage over going home. Since visiting hours are limited, your attention isn’t yet divided, for one thing. Plus, the baby hasn’t yet become part of the daily routine – he’s still something of a novelty.

That’s all going to change the minute you enter the front door, but you can soften the impact for the entire family by showering your firstborn with attention and affection before you show the baby his room or tending to him in any other way.

Don’t be surprised if your older child wants to help care for the baby. Obviously, this can be a little nervewracking – but giving her small chores will allow her to be involved and avoid that ‘left out’ feeling. She might not be able to change a nappy, but she can certainly bring you the wipes and hold her sibling’s hand to offer some comfort during the change.

Above all, make your child feel valued. Of course, it’s difficult to find a spare moment when you’re exhausted and there just aren’t enough hours in the day – but taking just half an hour to have a tea party will make her feel like she is still one of the most important parts of your world. You can show her this in other ways, too: just as you tell her that the baby needs your care, tell the baby out loud that his big sister needs your attention, too. Hearing this spoken will validate her and make her feel cherished.