Introducing a new baby (to your first)

Tips for welcoming a new baby into your family

I can go from excited and confident to misty-eyed and guilt-ridden faster than one might imagine when asked how I feel about Hudson no longer being our only child. We have such a special relationship and it can be heartbreaking to think about anything changing that—even if, logically, I can think of all the ways having a sister will make his life richer. After all, there will be one more person in the world who adores him.



And she, the new baby, will be so lucky to have such an incredible big brother. No doubt his world will be rocked, but I couldn’t ask for better reactions from him so far. He does things like kiss the baby goodnight, and offer to share with her (i.e. my belly) his carrots. He tells strangers “mommy grows bigger and bigger,” “I have baby sister in mommy’s tummy,” and “I be big brother.” We talked about where she will sit in the car, and he reached into his “box” in the backseat to show me the toy he is going to give her.

Hudson is particularly sensitive to other children crying, so we’ve been talking a lot about how babies cry because they can’t talk—and that baby sister will probably cry a lot. This is perhaps what he mentions most of all, and he even calls one of the new baby books we have been reading “the crying book.” He likes to look at the page where the baby cries and then talk about it.



Still, factor some pregnancy hormones into this whole mix and… yep, weepy mess. So I’ve solicited some advice on introducing “baby sister” to Hudson.

Here are my favorite tips I’ve gotten so far for preparing one’s first-born to welcome a new baby into your family…

Before going to the hospital or birthing center:

  • Read age-appropriate books* together about welcoming a new baby (just be sure you check them out first).
  • Help him get excited about being a “big brother” and talk about all of the special things he gets to do owing to that and to being older (climb, jump, … eat ice cream)
  • Speak about the baby as “ours” and “yours.”
  • Go on a special, solo date just before the baby arrives. And then, afterward, you can return and encourage that warm feeling of continuity.
  • Ask him to pick out a present for his baby sister; and have one for him from her.
  • Talk, briefly, about what he will get to do while you’re away having the baby (but don’t make too many specific promises, especially about timelines).

In the hospital:

  • Encourage adults to talk to him and greet him before the baby.
  • Welcome him into the hospital room with wide-open arms (when the baby is resting in a bassinet nearby, or being held by someone other than you).
  • Let them come and see you and meet the baby with just you and your partner, at first.
  • Don’t push them to fawn over the baby. Follow their lead. (And remember that there will be plenty of opportunities for photos of the two together if things don’t go exactly as planned.)
  • If they are leaving the hospital with caretakers or grandparents, without you, have a special distraction to offer. Lollipops work wonders.

Home, with a newborn:

  • Think of ways he can enjoy helping to care for the baby, and have a baby doll on hand for doing tasks side-by-side. Foster his pride at being a special helper.
  • Set aside at least 30 minutes a day for him completely apart from the baby, whether that means the baby is asleep in another room or spending time with your partner.
  • Use some of the same language you use with your older child with the baby. For example, if you find yourself asking him to “wait a minute, the baby needs…” often, try using that same phrase with the baby, in the presence of your older one. “Sorry [baby], it’s [brother’s] turn to sit on mommy’s lap and read a book.”
  • Let them fall in love on their own time.

And overall: Don’t worry. Just make sure he knows he is loved, and everything will work out. Embrace change, and enjoy this!

Anything you’d add? I’d love to hear!

*Books we have so far enjoyed: I’m a Big Brother

(Joanna Cole); My New Baby
(Rachel Fuller); The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby
(Stan and Jan Berenstain); and probably my favorite, Hello Baby!
(Lizzy Rockwell). For reference, Hudson is 2-1/2. There may be better options for older children.

P.S. Some thoughts on having more than one child. And Cesar Millan’s tips for introducing the family dog.

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