How to prepare your child to be a big sibling

This fall, my family will welcome a new baby into our family. My son is three and it’s been a while since we have been in the newborn phase. This time around, the added element of preparing my son to be a big brother is something we’re planning for. Here are five things to consider while preparing your child to become a big sibling.

Schedule quality time with your big kid

The advice I’ve received the most on adding another child to the mix is to be intentional about one on one time with my big kid. Planning “dates” with your older child can help reinforce that they are still an important element in your family and make the adjustment a bit easier. While you are at it, check off a few things from your summer bucket list and turn them into a date!

Get organized

Think about the pain points in your current routine and tackle them head on! This may mean creating a regular meal rotation for your family, organizing family memories, or adding a “family meeting” to the schedule to reassess your calendar. You may also consider ways you can automate things in your family’s life, such as grocery delivery, during this season of life.

Take a class together

Before the baby arrives, a “big sibling” class can help your child prepare for the added responsibility of taking care of their sibling. Most Chicagoland hospitals offer sibling classes as part of their prenatal curriculum. While you may not need a birthing class this time around, this may be something to consider. Here are some local options:

  • UChicago offers a Sibling Preparation Class that teaches children ages 4-10 what to expect when the baby arrives and how to be a good helper.
  • Northwestern Medicine offers a Tike Hike class designed to help children ages 3-10 understand what will happen to mom and new baby at the hospital, how to hold the baby and how to express their feelings.
  • Advocate Health Centers host Sibling Classes where older siblings can learn how to wrap a baby and change a diaper. They will also visit the nursery and view the newborns up close.

Give yourself and your child grace

This transition will be hard on everyone, even your child. Go easy on them and extend both yourself and your child grace. Remember, it’s ok for your kid to have feelings and the transition is as hard for them emotionally as it is for new parents. Help them process their feelings with patience.

Know that it’s temporary

This season of your life will be a beautiful, chaotic and hard transition. The second time around, find peace in knowing that this season is temporary. Take the age-old advice of enjoying every moment to heart. You’ve got this, parents! 

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