How to prepare your child for a new baby…

Expanding your family is such an exciting time, you now know so much more, which hopefully has allayed some of those first time parent worries. However, you aren’t just preparing yourself for your growing family this time, but for your firstborn too. So how can you help prepare your child? Let’s explore that here a little more…

When should I tell my child that they will be getting a new sibling?

There isn’t a ‘perfect’ time to tell children this news, because everyone’s circumstances are unique, for example, the age gap, the personality of children and even your journey to becoming, and sadly sometimes having a full-term pregnancy varies for all families. So I would avoid following what parenting experts say you ‘should’ do, and consider what is going to work for your family circumstances. What we do know for sure in terms of child development is that children have a developing sense of time, so 9 months for them is an eternity, so you’ll want to consider how long is ‘too long’ for your child. At the other end of the spectrum, of just seeing how they respond when the baby comes along can be a huge transition for children too. So here’s how you can find a middle ground… 

Children are incredibly perceptive, and even if they don’t yet have the language to comment on your growing bump, they’ll be aware of how your growing bump is affecting parts of their life. For example, less carrying, maybe having help from a partner to get them in and out of the bath etc. So when your bump is beginning to affect things that relate to them, that’s a good time to introduce the idea of a new baby.

How should I tell my child that I am having a baby?

Parents often worry about how to tell their child, and what questions may come up when they do, remember that as adults we have lots of unhelpful ideas that we inherit about pregnancy and birth, children don’t carry those ideas. In fact, my Hypnobirthing courses would be much easier if adults had no pre-conceived ideas about birth!

You can very gently introduce the idea of pregnancy and new babies to your child, but don’t be offended if they show no interest in this whatsoever. This is an extremely abstract idea for young children.

Some things you can do- by pointing out a pregnant friend’s baby bump, or making an effort to say ‘’hello’’ to even pre-verbal babies will help children become aware of the idea of pregnancy and babies.

Here are two great resources I would recommend to watch or read with your child to help prepare them for the birth of a sibling:

  1. Cbeebies have an excellent series, My Very First that explores all aspects of newborn and baby life
  2. Mummy’s Growing a Baby by early years professional, Beth Thomas

Rather than planning a ‘special’ reveal, or even sitting them down for an important conversation, the best way to introduce the idea of a new baby is through chatting or playing with your child organically.

It is best to use simple language that your child will understand such as ‘’Mummy is having a baby’’, or ‘’we are going to have a new baby in our family’’ rather than ‘’you are going to be a big brother/sister’’. Your child will identify themselves as being your special baby, and by moving them out of that role and into ‘’big brother/sister’’, this can upset their sense of identity. What children want to know is that their relationship with you won’t be affected, rather than this meaning they have a new role.

Once you have introduced the idea of a new sibling, you’ll want to gently build on this with your child to increase their understanding. But the way that you do it will vary depending on your child’s age and stage of development, and on their initial reaction as you introduced the idea of a new baby. As part of my early years work, I meet with parents one to one to discuss strategies to support your existing children transitioning to having a new sibling. Rather than reading general guidance from a book, for example, this will give you unique and bespoke strategies for your family, and for your child. This service works by you filling in a questionnaire which will give me the information I need about your family dynamic and your child’s personality, and then we meet via Zoom to discuss strategies and techniques for preparing your child during your pregnancy and then for once the baby is born too.

How will I manage with more than one child?

This is a good question, and one that I imagine goes through most pregnant people’s minds for subsequent pregnancies. It is very easy to spend this pregnancy worrying about the effect a new baby may have on your firstborn child/ren, in order to meet their needs, the most important thing to do, is to have your needs met. Having been through the postnatal period before, perhaps you have an idea of things you may have done differently and have a clear idea of what you will need to ask for at this time. 

If you have a partner, it’s a great idea to sit down and consider what you will both need to make this transition as smooth as possible for you both. Or perhaps having the conversation with close family or friends that may be available to offer you support. Another lesser-known, but amazing resource that is available to you at any time through your baby’s first year is hiring a postnatal doula. If you have never heard of a doula, check out my IGTV here with Sam Reynolds who is a postnatal doula in Surrey. If you are interested in hiring a doula for anything from a short planning session to them becoming consistent support for your growing family in the early days of your transition, the Doula UK website is the best resource to explore this.

Another key part of the preparation for a new baby is having the time to bond with your bump and consider what kind of birth you would love to prepare for. This helps so much with the mental preparation of becoming a parent again but also becoming a parent to this little being growing in your belly. It is important to think about what kind of birth you would like, and also what happens if things don’t go to plan, as however, you birth your baby, you will need some time to recoup and recover. During my hypnobirthing courses, I work with clients to create a birth plan for all types of birth, whether that be a water birth or caesarean birth, so you can feel confident that you know what all of your options are should things divert from your original plan during the birth. Preparing with hypnobirthing means you’ll create a dedicated routine for regular relaxations and bonding sessions with your bump. This counts for your birth partner too, when life is so busy with other children running around, it’s important to take the time to connect so that you both on the same page for the birth of your new baby. If you’d like to find out more about hypnobirthing, you can check out my ‘What is Hypnobirthing?’ blog here.

There is plenty of general information out there, but every family is unique, so the most important thing is to figure out what you need, and ask for that bespoke support.

For private, group and refresher hypnobirthing courses click here, my next group course is starting on May 11th and I am currently taking bookings. I am also running a free hypnobirthing taster session on Sunday 18th April at 10.30 am, you can sign up for the session here. If you’d like to have a consultation to book a bespoke planning session to help your young child with the transition of getting a new sibling, I offer those Monday’s, Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s at 11 am. You can head to my website here to explore these services in more depth and book your space.