Preparing the way


Class helps siblings cope with new arrivals :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

photo courtesy of Rizwan Khalfan Anisa Khalfan, 4 of Naperville, shows off her baby sister, Asiya.

Stay-at-home mom Brigitte Spitz is ready to welcome her third child. The question is whether her oldest son, Adam, 4, feels the same way.

"I was worried how he would feel about Mommy not giving him as much attention. I knew he was also scared about my well-being at the hospital," Spitz says.

In the hope of preventing a sibling disaster, Spitz enrolled her son in "New Baby in Our Family," a one-hour class offered by Edward Hospital in Naperville.

The Edward Hospital program, like a growing number of similar programs at other hospitals, aims to prevent those stories we've all heard: the older sibling who stopped potty training for six months after the birth of a child, the children who stop speaking to their parents for days, the older sibling who tries to give away or sell the new baby.

Edward Hospital offers its kid-focused classes to children ages 2½ to 7. Each child is given a baby doll to care for while they learn about changing diapers, swaddling and bottle feeding.

At a recent session, Anisa Khalfan, age 4, bubbled, "It's just like putting on my baby's nappy at home!"

After the lessons, everyone, including the parents, tours the recovery rooms. Nurse Marianne Wills encourages the children to draw pictures for their moms and the new baby that can be taped on the wall in mom's recovery room.

At the conclusion of the class, each child receives a big sister or big brother sticker, a coloring book, crayons and a certificate of completion. They glow as they are given that certificate, a symbol that they can be helpers, not hindrances, when the new baby comes home.

After taking the class, Spitz says she feels much better about her son's understanding and his new skills. "I'm not sure he'll be changing any diapers," Spitz says, "but at least he feels comfortable with what I'll be going through."

Hospital officials recommend siblings attend the class a month before the baby is due. Classes are offered two Saturdays each month and size is limited to eight. Cost is $15 per family. For more information, call (630) 369-6363 or check the Web at

Michelle Sussman

Kids Eat Chicago

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