Baby on the Way: Use These Tips to Prepare Siblings

Get children involved for new addition to household

Krista with daughter

At 37 weeks of pregnancy, Krista Afumbom is ready for her baby to arrive. And the Lakewood mother of one and husband Ferdinand are working to make sure daughter Abigail is also ready when baby brother Kai arrives.

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“We’ve been talking about him for a long time,” Ms. Afumbom says. “We’ve been talking about him as a real person, using his name. We talk about when he’s coming and what things will be like when he’s here.”

Children often feel a wide range of emotions when a new baby is on the way. Preparing them ahead of time for the birth of a new sister or brother will help them adjust once the baby is born, says OB/GYN Rebecca Starck, MD, Department Chair of Regional Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cleveland Clinic.

Abigail will celebrate her second birthday right around her brother’s due date. Ms. Afumbom recently weaned her from nursing.

“We spent a lot of time getting over the hurdle of nursing. Now in the last few weeks, she is wanting more physical closeness to me again,” Ms. Afumbom says. “She asks for more cuddle time than usual. But she talks about Kai and she rubs my belly. The bigger my belly gets, the more clingy she gets too. It’s hard for my husband to put her to bed now. She knows she’s going to be dethroned soon!”

To help prepare Abigail for her brother’s arrival, Ms. Afumbom and her husband read her books about being a big sister. They transformed one of the bedrooms in their home into a whimsical “big girl room” with a tent, slide, books and Teddy bears. Abigail recently moved from the nursery, the smallest room in the house, into her new room, which happens to be the largest bedroom in the house.

The Afumboms are doing all the right things to help Abigail prepare for the arrival of a new sibling, says Dr. Starck.

“I encourage my patients to tell their children that this is their baby brother, their baby sister,” she says. Dr. Starck advises her patients to let their children play an active role in preparations for a new addition to the family.

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Here are some tips to prepare children for a new baby:

  • Talk about what having a new brother or sister will be like. Read books together that show pictures of babies and families.
  • Encourage your children to help decorate the nursery. Let them choose a photo of themselves to place near the baby’s crib.
  • Ask them to help design the baby’s birth announcements with their own handwriting and drawings.
  • Let them pick out the baby’s “coming home” clothes.
  • Enroll them in a sibling preparation class at a hospital or birthing center.
  • Get “I’m the Big Sister” or “I’m the Big Brother” T-shirts for them to wear the day the baby is born.

“Some of my patients worry about how they and their family could possibly make room for another; if they could have enough love for another baby,” Dr. Starck says. “Many women have anxiety that Baby No. 1 will be slighted.”

But try not to worry. Dr. Starck says that mothers often find themselves surprised by their capacity to love. “The heart has no boundaries,” she says.

To hear more of Krista’s story, please go to this post.

krista-afumbom updated bio box

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