Introducing siblings

What should you consider when introducing a new sibling?

Having children again can lead to completely different and new thoughts that did not come up during the first pregnancy. Some of these may be about how best to introduce a new sibling. Here is some general advice that can be helpful and also some specific advice for certain situations.

Lay the ground and prepare during pregnancy

Depending on how old the existing child is and how much they understand what is to come, it can be good to start the preparation during pregnancy. Let the older child feel if the baby kicks, or sing a goodnight song together for the baby in the womb. It can also be a good idea to read books together about having siblings. Another idea is to let the older child be involved in preparations for the sibling's arrival. It can be, for example, arranging the stroller or making a bed for their new sibling. Let the child's interest and curiosity rule.

It can also be easier if the child gets to meet other babies and talk about the fact that you also have a baby coming. Some children even like to relate to themselves as newborns and hear about how it was. Show pictures and talk about the time when the older child was a newborn. What were they like as a baby? What kind of songs did they like?

What to do at a first meeting with the newborn baby?

Once the newborn baby has arrived, many people ask themselves what to do at the first meeting. There is no right or wrong here. You or you as parents know best what works for your family, but here is some advice from my experience as a midwife in a maternity ward:

  • If the older child is to come and visit you, do it in connection with you all going home. If the older child is allowed to come for a while and then has to leave the mother and the new sibling, it can mean a lot of emotions that make the child sad and confused. It can also be a nice memory that you go home together and that the older child got to come and pick up their mother and new sibling.

  • When you meet for the first time, keep your arms open and accessible to the older child. The newborn baby may be in a partner's arms or lying in a bed next to it. In this way, you show that you are there and there will be no competition for their mother's arms at this first, special meeting. Let the child come to you first and then wonder where the new sibling is and show interest and curiosity. When the child itself is allowed to be curious and ask for the sibling, it also becomes more on the child's terms and controlled by their feelings.

  • When you come home from the hospital and everyday life suddenly has to work with a newborn, it can be good to let the older child be involved in certain situations such as changing nappies and feeding to feel included and involved. The older child often thinks that this is very interesting and exciting at first, but the interest will likely diminish - so be patient in the beginning. If the child's desire to be involved becomes a little too much, it can be a good tip to give the child simpler tasks to divert, such as picking up a pacifier, a nappy or making a bed for the baby next to it. It makes the child feel involved and you get a little more space.

It is not uncommon for the older child to regress and want to be younger in order to receive the same attention and care as the newborn child. Let the child try this and help with things that you really know he/she can handle on their own, it is transient and a phase some children go through.