Chris Shoaf, a 28-year birth instructor, talks about the benefits of sibling class. These fun and important classes allow the older sibling to learn a little more about what to expect.
How exciting to add a new baby into your family! It’s important to remember: All children react differently to a new baby. But knowing what to expect and how to handle the questions that come up is the first step in preparing your child for a new little one.
Here at Renown, we offer a sibling class for children 3 to 10 years of age where they will learn and explore their new roles as a big brother or sister. This class consists of:
- circle time
- what to expect during mom’s hospital stay
- insights into what new babies look like
- what newborns eat
- how they behave
They will go on a tour of the newborn nursery as well as receive a certificate at the end of class.
By taking our sibling class, this will give them an opportunity to look at what to expect when they visit, a chance to see other babies in the nursery, and what your room will look like when they come to visit. While in the hospital, take the time to visit our “Children’s Healing Garden,” where there is an outdoor and indoor play area.
Before and after our class, here are a few tips that will help you prepare big brother or big sister for the new baby:
What to Say/Do in Advance:
- Young children may not understand much about what it means to have a new brother or sister. However, let your child hear you talk about the “new baby” and feel your excitement. She may not understand why you are excited, but your attitude will rub off on her, and she will feel excited too.
- Talking to your child about the arrival of his or her new sibling will help them prepare. Explain in age-appropriate terms how the baby is growing. Additionally, ask him or her to help you set up the baby’s nursery.
- Explain to your older child that the baby will eat, sleep and cry most of the time. This will help them understand that the baby won’t be a playmate right away.
- It’s a good idea to figure out early on if the will need to change rooms or move out of the crib to make space for the new baby. This will give your older child a chance to get used to the new setup before dealing with the baby’s arrival. Try to complete your older child’s toilet training before the baby is born. Alternatively, wait until a few months after you bring baby home to start the process.
- When it comes time to go to the hospital, make arrangements ahead of time where your child will go, make that a part of the planning and how they will be coming to visit in the hospital.
Activities You Can Do at Home with Big Siblings
- Go through your child’s baby pictures to remind him what he looked like. This will also show the excitement everyone felt at his arrival!
- Read age-appropriate books about childbirth
- Visit friends who have infants
- Pack a bag for the hospital
- Think of potential baby names, and involve the older sibling in the conversation
- Have the big brother or big sister go with you to the doctor to hear the baby’s heartbeat
- Let them help you with the nursery
- Have him practice holding a teddy bear and diapering at home
One Last Idea: A Gift Exchange
Have your child pick out a special present for the new baby. Then surprise your child with a special gift from the new baby.
A Final Word About Sibling Class
There are so many things you can do to help make this transition easier. Always let your child’s questions be your guide. A child who wants to know more will ask.
Enrolling in our sibling class will help children and parents learn together about what it means to become a new sibling.