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June 21, 2024

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New Baby on the Way! Introducing Your Firstborn to the Idea

Moms and dads can feel guilty when they bring a newborn home to meet their firstborn, afterall their time is divided now. You have enough love for all!

Congrats — a new baby on the way! Introducing your firstborn to the idea will be in order soon. So how do you do it? Moms and dads can be very excited about their growing family, but there’s a ‘how and when’ to telling your firstborn what’s going on; after all, nine months is a long time! Take heart, here are tips from The American Academy of Pediatrics.

When to Tell Your Firstborn

How and when you tell your firstborn about a new baby on the way has no right or wrong answer, so do what feels right for you! Here are a few things to keep in mind as you decide:

— Think about your child’s age and maturity. If you have a 3 or 4 year old, they’ll have an easier time understanding than a much younger toddler.

— Think about waiting to share the news until you are showing. Your growing belly can be helpful in explaining the change that is happening.

— On the other hand, if you’re having physical symptoms early in your pregnancy, you may want to tell your child what’s happening sooner. Explain what you’re experiencing and feeling in a way that doesn’t place blame on the growing baby.

— There’s no ideal way to tell your firstborn about the new baby on the way, but using a book that includes a new baby is a gentle way to start the conversation.

Tips

— Let your firstborn know in a way they can understand how special it is to be a big brother or sister. Use words like “our baby.”

— If your child is under 3, there may be little or no reaction, if you child is older there may be happiness, tears or confusion — be prepared to let your child adjust with empathy for whatever emotions they display.

Preparing for the New Baby Together

You will be doing a lot of preparations for the new baby. One of the best things you can do is to include your firstborn as much as they want to be. Chances are they will love being a part of it all, but then sort of lost interest from time to time and just start living their own life again. But any chance for your child to feel included is helpful. Ask their opinion about clothing, toys, baby names and everything you are talking about regarding the new baby. It’s also a good idea to maintain your usual routines with your toddler as much as possible, like storytime, playtime and more since children love consistency. Maintaining consistency helps children feel secure.

Introduction

It’s finally time! Before introducing your firstborn to the new baby, describe what it will be like for your child. “Our baby will be teeny!” and “Our baby might cry a lot” and “Our baby will need to get bigger before he can play with you,” are all appropriate things to say.

— When your older child first comes into the room where you and the baby are, make sure someone else is holding the baby so you can give your older child a big hug and love. Then, together, turn your attention to the new baby.

— Next, in introducing your firstborn, let them know they can touch their new brother or sister very gently. Encourage hand-washing and let them gently kiss the baby’s toes or the top of the head (not the face). If your child is old enough, let them sit in a chair with pillows for props (and an adult nearby) and let them “hold” the new baby on their lap.

— Going forward to home and beyond, be aware of how you divvy up your attention. It’s tricky going from one child to two. Your newborn needs a lot of tending to, so be sure to give your older child special time just for him, too.

It’s OK that you will have to feel your way through this period of time. There is enough love capacity in your heart for one, two or as many children as you’d like to have! Each baby will bring challenges and surprises. Be open to everything that comes your way — and include all of your children as much as you can!

Books to Help in Introducing Your Firsborn

Mama’s Belly – A little girl asks question after question about the baby growing in her mother’s belly. She feels excited to help and worried about sharing special things. Sometimes her mama gets tired and forgets story time. Over time, she secure that her mother will have more than enough room in her heart for them both.

Nine Months – A beautiful and accurate picture book for preschoolers who want to know about the month-by-month development of the incoming baby.

Hello in There – This is a lift-the-flap book with whimsical (as opposed trealistic) images. The story is told from the perspective of an excited big sister-to-be, as she asks the baby what it’s like in mommy’s belly.

Where do Babies Come From? – A simple book that provides just enough information about pregnancy for young children in question-and-answer format.

 

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About the Author

Susan Swindell Day

Susan Day is the editor in chief for this award-winning publication and all-things Nashville Parent digital creative. She's also an Equity actress, screenwriter and a mom of four amazing kids.