Preparing Your Older Child or Teen for a New Baby
There’s lots of advice out there for parents who have teens or tweens and are preparing for a new baby. It’s important to remember that becoming a sibling is a life-changing event for your children. When kids are younger, it can be especially difficult for them to deal with the adjustments that come with welcoming a new sibling into the family.
If you have a son or daughter who is elementary school-aged or older, it can be challenging to prepare them for becoming a big sister or brother. These tips can also be helpful if your children already have younger siblings, since a new baby will still be a significant life change.
- 1 Remember that your older child isn’t a baby anymore
- 2 Ask your child how he/she is feeling as often as possible
- 3 Get ready to have “the talk”
- 4 Talk to your teens about being judged
- 5 Have a conversation about peer perceptions
- 6 Accentuate the positive
- 7 Your older children may want to be present for the birth
- 8 Be prepared to deal with additional issues and questions
Remember that your older child isn’t a baby anymore
Don’t over-simplify when you’re explaining to your son or daughter that he/she will be welcoming a new sibling soon. While you’ll probably want to explain pregnancy and birth in the simplest terms possible, have a conversation with your child is that age-appropriate.
Ask your child how he/she is feeling as often as possible
Check in with your child to see how he/she is feeling about having a new baby in the house. Answer any questions they may have about moving to a new home, changing bedrooms or going to a new school. These issues can be challenging for older children, and you should be be prepared to hear things that may be uncomfortable for you. For instance, your child may admit that he/she doesn’t want a new sibling, but you still need to hear your child out and make sure that he/she feels comfortable voicing concerns or reservations. Ask your child why he/she isn’t excited about having a new sibling. It can be difficult for your son or daughter to imagine having to share a home–and your attention–with a new baby. This could be the case until the baby arrives, and your older child may still feel this way for a while after you bring the baby home.
Get ready to have “the talk”
You’re probably going to have to talk about how you got pregnant to your older child. Of course, this talk should be appropriate according to the age of your child. If you’ve already talked about sex with your child or he/she has had sex education at school, be prepared to answer questions about sex and pregnancy that may make you uncomfortable. However, make sure that your child feels at ease, and get some educational books to help you through the conversation if need be.
Talk to your teens about being judged
If you have a teenager, he/she may get asked if he/she is the parent of the new baby when you go out as a family. This can be upsetting for your teenager, so discuss this ahead of time so they know how to deal with it. If you are close by and hear someone “judging” your teen for being a young parent, address the situation in a way that lets your teenager know you are still committed to offering all the parental support he/she needs.
Have a conversation about peer perceptions
Some teens and tweens may get teased at school when word gets around that you’re having a baby. Some of your child’s friends may allude to the fact that it’s “gross” that you and your spouse are having sex. Then again, your teen’s friends may not comment on the pregnancy at all. Make sure your teenager doesn’t feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about the fact that you’re about to welcome a new family member.
Accentuate the positive
If you’re pregnant and already have a older child, your pregnancy can be particularly interesting and adventurous. Offer to bring your teen with you to your prenatal checkups, and let them ask the midwife or doctor questions. This will help them to feel included in your pregnancy journey. This is also a great way to open up the discussion about pregnancy, parenting and life in general. You may find that you’re able to bond with your teen in a way you never thought possible.
Your older children may want to be present for the birth
This, of course, is a decision you should make as a family. It can be a very positive and life-changing experience for your older children. However, you know your children and can tell whether seeing you in that type of pain would be traumatizing for them. Your older children could find that this will prepare them to be a supportive partner later in life when they have children of their own.
Be prepared to deal with additional issues and questions
When it comes to having a baby, a lot of unexpected things will come up, no matter how many times you’ve been through the process. You will also need to explain certain things to your older children as you get ready for the birth of a new baby. If you’ve been dealing with fertility issues for a while and it has taken you longer than expected to have another baby, your teen or tween may ask you questions about fertility. If you are a blended family, your older son or daughter may want to know exactly how the new baby will be related to him/her. Answer these questions for your child instead of relying on others to do it for you.
Most of all, remember that your children will have different needs based on their ages and personalities. Be kind and patient and encourage your child to do the same. Realize that you both have room to grow and allow this to be a beautiful learning experience!