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New baby? Here are some top tips to introduce a new sibling to older children and avoid years of sibling strife and rivalry.

It is important to be aware of our tone and gesture when we break the news to our children about their new sibling. It’s a great opportunity to get your child and their sibling to bond even before the birth. However, age does play a key role in how your child adjusts to this new development. The correct approach when starting the conversation is essential. A slight miscommunication or action may be a catalyst for a sibling rivalry throughout their growing stages. The effects these life-changing announcements have on children at different milestones in their life vary. Many kids grow up bickering with their siblings because of the change in daily routines as well as the attention shift from mom and dad.

Introducing the new addition to their siblings

Sister Yolanda Mpilo, Parenting and Pampers® Institute Expert, shares her tips on how to introduce the new addition to their siblings:

1-3 years
  • You have to be visual when breaking the news to your child. Read them storybooks that have or include words like “younger brother” and “younger sister”, play with your child and ask if their younger brother is allowed to play with them when they arrive.
  • Make time for their night rubs or any routine they have. Read bed time stories that talk about babies and families.
3-5 years
  • At this age, honesty should always be a priority when breaking the news to the young preschooler. Subtle actions of placing new baby clothes next to them or asking them to assist pack away new baby items. This will display a sense of trust and responsibility, which they will also develop towards their new sibling.
  • Try not to move your child from their room to re-purpose it for a nursery. This may show signs of being replaced. Instead, take an old item like a crib and ask if his younger sister could use it. This signals a moment of maturity and growth for your child.
6+ years
  • At this age, your child is more independent and well on their way to attending primary school. Announcing the news to them should be in an understanding, calm and warm tone.
  • Try to have this conversation during your usual bonding time (e.g. bath or bed time). Ask them how they feel about having a new sibling.
  • Give them an active role in helping to prepare for the sibling’s arrival by asking them to pick a colour of paint for the nursery.
  • Once the baby is born and at home, involve your first-born in helping take care of them. Teach them how to hold the baby correctly; this will build their confidence in being responsible and trustworthy. Ask for help when changing the baby’s nappy, this will make them feel like they are playing a big role in their new sibling’s development and growth. This also allows your children to build a bond early on.
  • The most important thing is to avoid making your first-born feel as if they are being side-lined. While the family may fuss over the new arrival, it is important that the other child gets equal attention and affection, and never feels neglected.

“Eventually how children build or classify their relationship as siblings is rooted by parents and how well they foster a loving and peaceful environment. There will always be disagreement, which may need parents’ intervention. But, a good foundation will help them navigate any conflict and continue to love each other as siblings well into their old age”, Yolanda concludes.

Sister Yolanda Mpilo