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Health and Fitness News

Growing Family Dynamics

How you can help your children prepare for a new addition to the family.

You’ve got the nursery ready; bought the car seat, diapers, and onesies; and packed your overnight bag for the hospital. You’re as ready as you can be for the arrival of the newest addition to your family. Or are you?

Adding another member to the family is a time of great transition—not just for mom and dad, but for other children in the home as well.

Before bringing home a new little one, you’ll want to prepare your older children for a new brother or sister. Help make your kids’ adjustment as smooth as possible with these tips.


A young child’s knowledge is very limited about what it means for mommy to have a new baby. When mommy and daddy are excited about the baby, a toddler will be as well. Talk about the new baby and look at picture books about new babies. If your toddler needs to move out of a crib or into another bedroom, make the transition weeks or months before the baby comes so your child doesn’t have to deal with more than one big change at a time.

When the baby arrives, children of all ages can come to the hospital to meet their new sibling. Once home, give your older children a special gift, spend quality time with them, and let them be mommy’s little helpers.


Children ages 2 to 4 may have a harder time adjusting to a new brother or sister. In the days leading up to delivery, talk about mommy’s growing belly and the excitement of a new sibling. Read picture books or look at family pictures of when your kids were newborns. Tell your preschooler what it will be like having a baby in the house—that the baby will sleep a lot, eat a lot, cry a lot, and take up a lot of your time.

Explain who will care for your preschooler-age kids while you’re in the hospital and reassure them that you’ll be home soon. Tell your children that they won’t be able to play with the baby for a while, but they can help you sing to baby, pat baby’s back, or kiss baby’s toes. Some parents find it helpful to give a baby doll to their preschooler for pretend play.

Be sure to handle bed and room changes and toilet training well before or after baby arrives, but expect your preschoolers to regress as a way to get more attention. After all, preschoolers are used to being the baby of the family and will likely feel jealous of or threatened by a new addition. After baby comes home, give your other children plenty of affection and if possible, make a point of giving one-on-one attention to your older children. If you can’t do it, get grandparents, aunts, and uncles in on it.

School-Aged Kids

Children over the age of 5 tend to have an easier time transitioning to a new member of the family. Help prepare older kids for baby’s arrival by talking about the baby and what life will be like with a baby in the home. Let your kids help set up the nursery, buy baby supplies, and pick out clothes.

Give your child responsibilities to help care for the new baby such as holding, rocking, dressing, or changing diapers. Praise your older kids for helping and having a good attitude. Give opportunity for older kids to talk about how the new baby makes them feel, and reassure them of your love with plenty of affection and attention.