How to Prep and Help Your Children Adapt to a New Baby


Bringing home a new baby is always exciting for everyone involved, but sometimes that excitement wears off pretty quickly for the children already in the home; you know, with all the crying, poopy diapers, and parents who are sleep deprived. So, what can we do to better prepare our children for the new baby? How can we make the transition less chaotic and less stressful for our bigger kids?



Toddlers 1-2 years old


At this age your child will likely not understand what “bringing home a new baby” means, but you can still talk about the baby and show your excitement for the new baby.


Preschool 2-4 years old


-Show your child the ultrasound of the baby

-Read books about babies, bringing home a new baby and being an older sister/brother

-When the new baby arrives, be sure to do something specifically for them and continue to set aside time specifically for them.

-Show your toddler some of their old baby pictures to get them ready to see a baby. Or Bring out their old baby toys for them to play with before they give them to the new baby.

-Have your toddler (or older child) practice being a big brother/sister by playing with baby dolls; feeding them, changing them, soothing them and putting them to bed.

-You can be honest to your children; the new baby won’t just be all sunshine and roses. The baby will cry, wake up at night, and there will be times where you as a parent will not be able to divide your attention.


School aged 5+ years old


-Tell your child what is and is going to happen in a language they understand:

-about being pregnant

-about having to go to the hospital for a while

-about what the new baby will need and what to from your child

-Have your child help out getting the baby’s room ready,

-Let them help by getting diapers, wipes, rags, pacifiers, or other small items

-Let them hold the baby with your help



Common behaviors and what to do about them:


-Asking for a bottle or to breast feed (if previously weened)

-Soiling themselves even if they are potty trained

-Crying/yelling more

-Asking for help with tasks they know how to complete (feeding themselves, changing clothes, etc)

-Wanting your undivided attention

-Wanting to sleep in your bed

-Asking for the baby to be returned/not wanting to be a big sister/brother anymore

-Yelling at the baby

-Refusal to help

-Not wanting the baby to touch their things/refusing to share


Spend more 1:1 time with them, do something that they want to do. Give your child their favorite toy or activity to play with while you are feeding the baby or if the baby is down for a nap. You could also read or sing to your child while you are feeding the baby to keep them close. Ask a family member to watch the baby while you take your older child  to do something fun. Try to keep their routines as consistent as possible, ie: wake/sleep schedules and eating schedules.   Praise your child when they are interacting positively with the baby or helping around the house. Reminisce with your child about how much they have grown since being a baby, showing them pictures of Mom being pregnant and everything after. Let your child express their emotions through play and listen to your child when they are expressing their emotions/frustrations to you.  Remember to reassure them, to let them know that they are just as loved as they have always been and that just because there’s a new baby it does not make you love them any less.





For more information please visit:

Child Mind Institute

Cleveland Clinic 

Raising Children