How to Prepare Your Children For a New Baby

June 15, 2018
Blog post

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Adding a baby to the family is a very exciting time.

During your pregnancy, you spend a fair amount of time thinking through how life will change when baby comes and how you can best adjust to that.

You make plans and preparations as best you can.

Our children, on the other hand, are unable to make such preparations on their own.

They usually can’t comprehend what it will mean to have another baby, much less logically think through how best to prepare for this new sibling.

It is our job as parents to help prepare our children as much as possible for this big life change.

Children are resilient. They adjust quickly.

You don’t necessarily have to take steps to prepare them because they will adjust quickly after baby comes; however, they will have an easier time adjusting if you take some measures during the pregnancy to help them do so.

This will help them and also help you, which is very helpful when you are adjusting to newborn life again. Here are some key areas to focus on:

Siblings sitting together

5 Ways to Help Prepare Siblings for a New Baby:

#1 Establish Independence

If there is anything you are consistently doing for your children that they could be doing for themselves, transition them toward independence.

If you are still putting your four year old’s shirt on every day, teach her to put in on by herself.

Maybe your child doesn’t know how to put his own shoes on, see if he can master that.

If your child always wants to be carried up the stairs, get her going up by herself. All of this training takes time.

Your four year old won’t be told one day he needs to get dressed by himself and then be capable the next.

So give it time and have patience. A really nice thing about working on these independent skills during pregnancy is that your child will feel less resentment toward the baby.

Toddler holding toy car
Siblings cuddling
Pregnant woman and newborn baby

These skills will be something you need your child to do once baby is here. You will be feeding baby for hours each day. 

That is just one aspect of baby care.

You will need your child to do these independent tasks, and if it is “because you are busy with the baby,” that can lead to jealousy and hurt.

If you focus on independence during your pregnancy and be excited about all of these new skills, your child won’t equate it with the baby.

For more thoughts on this, see How to Prepare for a New Baby: Establish Independence in Children.

#2 Set Up a Solid Schedule

As you prepare to welcome a sweet new baby into your family, focus on getting a solid routine going each day with your children.

Have daily Independent Playtime. It is a great way to give you an extra hour in the day to take care of baby, nap, or simply rest.

Give your children something solid to hold on to so when baby comes and shakes up their reality, they still have a strong dose of familiarity.

This helps them feel more secure in the baby addition. Have a common pattern to each day.

We wake up, we eat, we get ready, we do independent playtime, we eat lunch, we play for a bit and we take a nap…Even if your times change when baby comes along, your pattern can remain the same.

Brother and baby lying together

#3 Get a Solid Chore Schedule in Place

Every baby you add to your family adds time and work to your day. One more person with laundry to do.

One more person to fit in your head space and track the schedule for and one more person to bathe and get ready each day.

Babies take time–even really easy babies.

You need your children contributing to helping around the home regularly so it isn’t all on you. If you don’t already, take this time during pregnancy to get your children on a solid chore schedule.

Teach your children how to do the chores. Give them time to learn and master them (to their ability). This takes time and work, but it is absolutely and fully worth every effort.

For help getting your children doing chores, see 5 Steps to Teaching Your Children to Do Chores.

I also have chore lists for toddlers, three year olds, four year olds, and five year olds. If you go here, you can see links to all of these chore lists by age.

Siblings lying on a blanket

#4 Have Your Children Help Prepare for Baby

The first three ideas I discussed above help set up your days so you can add baby into them without things falling apart. That is a great step to take.

You also need to prepare your children mentally for this new baby. A great way to do this is to have your child help prepare for baby.

Have your child help prepare the nursery. Go shopping for baby supplies together. Talk about the baby with your child.

Chat about what life might be like with a baby. Talk about what your child can do to help you out when the new baby comes and talk about what won’t change when baby comes.

It can be helpful to have your child pick out a gift to give baby at their first meeting.

Children napping

#5 Be Ready to Welcome Baby to the Family

It is important to accept that baby will join the family. The baby isn’t an island everyone caters to.

The family doesn’t have to revolve around the baby, but the baby can’t be expected to revolve around the family, either.

The family must make adjustments and changes to add baby into the family. There will be sacrifice on both sides.

Read my posts on Welcoming Baby to the Family and Baby Joins a Family AND Family Adds a Baby for more on this.

Children hugging


“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a wise saying and has been around for ages for a reason.

Pregnancy is the time to prevent and prepare.

Life will still change when baby comes along, but the transition can be as smooth as possible if you take these few simple steps to prepare your children to welcome a new sibling to the family.

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