17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Preparing Siblings for the Birth of a New Baby

I realize Beth touched on this subject pretty recently, but I would love to take it a step further. My midwife suggested I take my two girls (age 5 and 2) to a "sibling class" to help them prepare for the new baby. It sounded like a fine idea but the problem is, I haven't found one at a place or a time that works for us -- and we're running out of time.

So now I am thinking I could just plan my own "class" with them. Maybe hold it on a Monday Night? Maybe we could even call it a "Family Night?"

My question is, has anyone been to a "sibling class?" What kinds of things did they do/discuss? If you were to plan a "preparing-for-our-new-addition-to-the-family" Family Night, what kinds of activities would you plan? What would you talk about? I could really use your ideas.


  • This is a great idea!

    Here are some of my ideas:

    Talk about how excited you were for each of them to come to your family, and then you can explain how another spirit is coming to your family.

    Discuss ways that they can "help" when the baby arrives (throwing away diapers, getting some clothes, etc.).

    Teach them how to hold a baby and explain that while the baby is tiny, everyone needs to be careful because the baby could get hurt easily.

    Explain that mommy will be busy sometimes with the baby and that it doesn't mean they are loved any less.

    I know you've been through this before, and I"m not sure how Princess reacted to Pumpkin's arrival, but with each of my kids, they "acted out" --even though I thought I had prepared each of them for it.

    #1 stole the baby's binky (she had been weaned for a while from this), sucked on it, and sat in the closet with her stuffed animals every time I nursed #2. It lasted about 3 days, and then she was fine.

    #2 would scream bloddy murder everytime I tried to nurse #3 unless I was the one holding her. That lasted about 6 days.

    #3 wouldn't look at #4 for about 2 days; then it was fine. For 4 months. After 4 months, #3 started to get a little too violent (nothing scary), and so I just had to make sure I never left #4 alone with #3. Now they're the best of buddies.

    Each kid reacts differently, but as long as it's understood that they might "act out", then there's nothing to worry about.

    Good luck with your FHE! You'll have to let us know what you decided to do...
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 3/05/2008 09:18:00 AM  

  • Oops. I meant "bloody" murder.
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 3/05/2008 09:19:00 AM  

  • Way back when Primary was on weekdays, the manual for 3-year-olds had a lesson on this. As much as I can remember, it focused on making the older siblings proud of how big they were and how much they could do, by having the kids hold baby clothes up to themselves so they could see how much they had grown (I remember being surprised at how much the kids enjoyed this, and how much laughing there was as if it was a new discovery). Then we named things they could do now that they couldn't do as babies, and acted them out -- walking, skipping, reaching high on a table, whatever they suggested. Anything to make them proud and happy to be big kids.

    Since I didn't have kids I can't comment on how well it worked. Couldn't hurt, I suppose.
    posted by Anonymous Ardis at 3/05/2008 12:41:00 PM  

  • I love how this new blog that I have found has exactly the things I need in my life!! I'm 33 weeks preggo with #2 and wondering the EXACT same thing! I was able to sign up for a sibling class through the hospital, but it's not till Monday. They told me that they bring a doll and teach them how the big sister/brother can help. They show them how to wash their hands before they play with the baby, and how to get the diapers. It sounded very age appropriate to teach them what THEY can do to help mommy and daddy. I'm a little nervous that she is going to act out, though. Thanks for all your great posts!
    posted by Blogger ennbenn at 3/05/2008 01:30:00 PM  

  • One fun project idea - Have your kids make a mini poster (like a half sheet of paper) about themselves, including a photo, to put in the baby's bassinet so he can "meet" his sisters. My friend who just had a baby did this and I know it was really important to her 4 year old son that his little brother had his picture to look at.
    posted by Blogger rebecca at 3/05/2008 02:19:00 PM  

  • This is a cool idea. I wonder if sibling classes are good for toddlers, too, or if it would just be too much. Plus I wonder how expensive they are? Maybe if done thru a hospital they aren't too much $$$. I think you could totally do one at home that would be just as effective. And yeah, throw in a scripture, or conference talk quote, or Friend article regarding families and you have "Family Night".

    I think the baby doll is perfect. Also maybe it would be cool to do a slide show on your computer with pictures of them when they were babies, or old ultrasound pictures of Princess & Pumpkin. You could even do a family project of putting together baby photos of all of you, and then add little brother's picture when he gets here. All of Cheryl's ideas are great, too.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 3/05/2008 02:28:00 PM  

  • I am also expecting #3 in June, and when I read the post initially I thought- "Nah, my kids are totally prepared and excited and good. I don't need this kind of thing."

    But after reading experiences and stories... I think we'll try some of those ideas too- just to really be sure!!
    posted by Blogger Rachel H at 3/05/2008 03:17:00 PM  

  • You know, I bought my boys each a doll and called it good. They both seem OK now...
    posted by Anonymous tracy m (dandelion mama) at 3/05/2008 11:24:00 PM  

  • Such great ideas everyone. I think I might have to plan "preparing for baby" part I & II.

    Rebecca - think princess will love making a little collage about herself for the baby.

    Beth - All the ones I looked at were through the hospital and they were free. Not sure about the age though.

    Tracy M - I think my kids will be fine even if I did nothing (and heaven knows they have more than enough baby dolls to practice with), but I think that preparing them a little more might help them remember their importance place in the family as well as help teach them to be good helpers once the baby arrives. And being more than fine after the baby comes sounds like a good plan to be.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 3/06/2008 09:30:00 AM  

  • Careful to not focus so much on "What they can do to help" because sometimes that will be intereted in the child's mind as "This baby is coming, so we're going to make you work!"
    Also, make sure they know they won't be able to play catch with the baby from day 1, but that that day WILL come.
    Love the ideas about looking at pictures of themselves as babies and talking about how much they have learned to do as they grew bigger. Talk about how fun it will be to watch the baby do the same things. Maybe make guesses about when the baby will be born, when the baby will smile, walk, etc. and write them on the calendar.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 3/06/2008 01:19:00 PM  

  • I'm having #4 in 2 weeks. My kids are 10, 8 & 4.
    This is what I feel has really worked well in the past, so I have tried to do again.
    1. Gifts. Gifts to give the baby that the kids choose. Gifts from the baby. I think we'll do it the day baby comes home. I have told the kids that we will have gifts because we are celebrating this special event.
    2. Lots of explanation about what babies do. Kids think of 9-18 month olds as babies. They talk and laugh and walk and play. It is important to keep their expectations more real. Babies sleep a lot. They eat. They cry. You can touch their hands and feet. They like to hold your hand. You have to sit on the couch to hold them with Mom's help, etc.
    3. Read books about babies coming. Helps with expectations and usually points out all the things that bigger kids can do. With my 4 year old, I ask her if babies eat icecream or play on the trampoline, or read, or play at a friend's house, etc. She gets to feel like life is more fun for her.
    4. Talk about when they were babies. Show pics. Gush. How happy you were when they joined the family.
    5. Don't blame things on the pregnancy (except explain to older kids). Don't keep telling a young child "No, you can't do that because Mom's pregnant and she can't do that." Be really careful to not reinforce the idea that the new baby is limiting them even before it is born.
    6. Say that the baby is lucky to have him/her as a big brother/sister.
    7. After the baby is born, don't force the bonding. Some kids are all over the baby, some kids aren't, but will warm up in their own time.
    8. One on one time with each kid!!!!
    9. Actually use words to tell the newborn when you are doing something with another child. "Baby, I can't hold you right now, because I'm putting on big sister's shoes!" or "Baby, I'm going to go play a game with big brother right now." Even if baby is asleep and happy, it helps the older child know that sometimes baby has to wait because you are taking care of him/her. Otherwise, all she'll notice is that you keep telling her to wait "I'm feeding the baby, I'll help you later", etc.
    10. Whenever I have the baby, I focus on spending time with my other children. Last time I played SO many games of Sorry! But it makes a world of difference because then they feel loved and secure during that time, rather than ignored. Kids are sensitive to times of change.
    11. Help them know what they can do. Read stories to the baby. Get the diaper bag, etc.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 3/06/2008 03:57:00 PM  

  • Hey Carrie- I didn't mean my comment to come across as snarky- it was supposed to me tongue-in-cheek, and per normal, inflection is lost in blog comments. Sorry!
    posted by Anonymous tracy m (dandelion mama) at 3/08/2008 08:49:00 AM  

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