Free express shipping across SA on all orders of R450 or more

Is your child ready for a brother or sister?

siblings laying next to each other

By Burgie Ireland RN RM SANC

If you have teenagers, don’t be surprised if they roll their eyes at you when they hear that you’re pregnant.  Your toddler, on the other hand, will be impatient for their new playmate. So, what’s the best way to prepare your child for a sibling?

American psychologist Jerome Kagan once said that parenting is not done by formula, so I can only offer you advice you based on personal experience as mom to four children.

The ideal age-gap:

Burton White, psychologist and author of “The First Three Years of Life” cautiones parents that “they’re facing an extra challenge if they space their children less than two years apart. Under the age of two and a half,” he continues. “A toddler is still so absorbed with mother and home that the appearance of a new rival for attention often comes as a shock the toddler is ill equipped to handle.”

Having had siblings fifteen months apart, my experience is that while it was hard work at the time, they’re the best of buddies today.

Understanding your child’s needs:

When you understand where your child is coming from, you can help to ease the transition to siblinghood.

Babies need lots of cuddling and comforting during their first year, and this intensifies from the age of six months till about 18 months. “This anxiety is diluted when they’re able to talk,” writes Vance Packard in his book, ‘Our Endangered Children – growing up in a changing world’. “Depending on circumstances, anxiety can peak again at 18 months, then improves after the age of two when children become more assertive. Between the ages of two and four, children are pretty stable and able to absorb change.”   

Coping Tips:

Don’t over-analyse the situation. Take it as it comes, bearing in mind that children simply want to feel wanted and accepted. 

Unless there’s an emergency, when both children are crying, see to your older sibling first. S/he is aware of your prioritising who gets attention first.

Don’t shout at your older child when s/he tries to ‘help you’ by, for example, picking the baby up. Gently take the baby while firmly telling him/her not to do this again.

Visitors are inclined to ogle to overlook the older child. Draw their attention to the older child for attention.

Give your older sibling pleasant, age-appropriate little tasks to do for the baby and allow him/her to feel important.

Some toddlers may regress in terms of toilet-training, comfort-sucking, drinking from a bottle and disturbed sleep. These are symptoms of stress, so take them seriously. Offer rewards rather than punishment.

‘Naughty’ children may simply be bored or feel ignored.

Make necessary changes to routine before baby arrives – e.g., starting play school, moving into a cot or into another room.

Story-telling is a good way to tell your child about their new sibling. Your local library or book store is a good place to start. Or make up your own story. It’s where my first children’s book “Daisy and the Flower seller” came from.

Don’t worry about not having enough love for another child. Parent love is like a flame – it never diminishes, no matter how far and wide it’s spread.    

Previous Next