Coping with sibling rivalry

New baby on the way?

Congratulations! Expanding your family is such an exciting time – but it can sometimes be overshadowed by worried about how your first-born is going to adjust.

However, there are some simple things you can do to make the transition as smooth as possible. Here’s how to keep your child happy and secure when they’re getting a sibling…

Breaking the news

There are ways of telling your child that he’s going to get a new brother or sister so that the impact is gentle and sensitive. Wait until you have some quiet family time, at the weekend, for instance. It’s also easier to explain about the new baby once you have a visible bump.

Keep it real

Most young children will accept that you have a baby in your ‘tummy’ quite readily at first, but then doubts set in. Your child may be wondering things but be unable to articulate them. How can a baby fit inside Mummy? How did it get there? How will it get out, and when?

‘There are some excellent books that help you to explain all about pregnancy and new babies in simple terms,’ says Alison, 29, mum to Abi, 4, and Clarissa, 9 months. ‘I bought a picture-board book called Waiting for Baby by Frank Endersby (£2.99, Child’s Play), and a story called There’s a House Inside My Mummy, by Giles Andreae (£5.99, Orchard Picturebooks). They both helped Abi really understand it all.’

To get your child used to the idea, and to help him understand that soon there’ll be another member of the family to care for, try taking him shopping for a few new baby items and, where practical, let him choose. He’ll love to feel that he?s playing an important role in preparing for the baby.

Show him your scan picture and point out the baby’s head, legs and arms. This will help him to understand that the baby is growing inside you. You could also give him a calendar, so he can mark the time off with a sticker: use different coloured stickers for each passing month and tell him that, for example, green stickers mean the baby could arrive any day.

One-to-one time

While it’s important for both you and your partner to emphasise to your child that he’s special and that his place in the family can never be taken away from him, greater involvement with both you and his dad can help reaffirm this.

In the run up to the birth, it’s a good idea to involve your first-born in the preparations so that he feels part of it all. Could he help pack your hospital bag? Would he like to make a card for the baby? You may be able to gauge how he’s really feeling by getting his ideas for welcoming the baby home.