Introducing the New Baby

by Dr. Gregory Gordon

Dr. Gregory Gordon

Dr. Gregory Gordon

One of the most commonly asked questions from readers and patients centers around introducing a new sibling to a family. What’s the best way to introduce a young toddler to your new baby and how can you make the first weeks/months go smoother?

Preparing for another child is always an exciting time for a family. Fortunately, most older siblings adjust well to the birth of a new baby. Here are a few tips to make the transition better:

Get the child involved. Talk to them about the baby and your changing body. Ask them if they want to feel the baby kick. Refer to it as their baby or our baby. Take them to doctor visits (when possible) and let them hear the baby’s heart and see the ultrasound images.

Read up! When we were pregnant with our second, we found the book Zaza’s Baby Brother by Lucy Cousins. It is a great book to prepare an 18-month to 3-year-old for a second child.

brother and baby Get a gift. After the birth of your newborn, have the new siblings exchange presents. On the way to the hospital to meet their new baby, have Dad take the older sibling to pick up a simple present for the baby. When they give their gift to the baby have the baby give them a present (perhaps something to keep them busy in the hospital) as well.

Get them involved. Let them hold their new baby. To make this as safe as possible, try a “double wrap.” Swaddle the newborn in a cotton swaddling blanket and then again in a fleece blanket. This gives the baby’s head padding and stability.

Don’t blame the baby. Try not to say things like, “Mommy can’t read you a book since she has to feed the baby.” Do say things like, “Let’s read a book right now and then Mommy will come upstairs and give you a kiss goodnight.”

Prepare, prepare, prepare. Get your older child ready. If the plan is to move the two-year-old to a big-boy bed, do it at least a couple months before your due date. To avoid the toddler claiming ownership of the crib, pack it up. When you bring out the crib closer to your due date, it will now be the “baby’s bed.”

Be positive. Many parents feel like they are taking away from their first born by “daring” to have a second. This simply isn’t the case. Your children’s relationship should last beyond your lifetime and help them in life’s rough times. When your son has girlfriend trouble in college he won’t call you, but he may call his brother.


Greg & eight!

Greg & eight!

Dr. Gregory Gordon grew up in Gainesville, Florida. He attended the University of Florida for both his undergraduate and medical degrees. After he completed his pediatric residency at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, he joined Pediatric Associates of Orlando. Dr. Gordon is the proud father of eight children. He is the Vice President of “The Gift of Swimming” (a local charity that provides swim lessons to Orlando’s needy children). In early 2010 Dr. Gordon started gregorygordonmd.com to share his pediatric and parenting experience.

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