When it is time to go to the maternity hospital, the reason should be explained to the older children. The most important thing to say is that the mother or parents will come back home even if they are away for a couple of days. Many children may be afraid of being left behind.

It is important to show to the older siblings that they are not left alone or do not lose their parents’ love and affection after the new baby is born. It is a good idea to explain to the child about care arrangements to avoid unnecessary worries.

Each child reacts to the new baby in his or her own way. When children meet their younger sibling for the first time, they should be encouraged to touch the baby and talk to him or her. Already at the hospital, older siblings could take part in the care of their new baby sister or brother.

Tips for the first contact:

  • Older siblings could be given a little gift from the baby or parents.
  • Older siblings could give a gift for the baby.
  • Visitors could greet the older siblings first and only then the baby.
  • Something interesting to do for older siblings can be taken with you to the hospital.

Ways older children may react to baby’s birth

It is normal that individual differences may appear in siblings’ behaviour after the baby’s birth. Do not overlook the older siblings’ worries and fears as they are real and significant emotions and experiences to them. Changes in behaviour may signal a sibling’s inability to control the new situation.

Siblings may react to the new baby for instance in the following ways:

  • Negative talk about the baby.
  • Aggressive behaviour towards the baby.
  • Temper tantrums, sulking, frustration.
  • Withdrawal.
  • Clinging to mother or father.
  • Refusing care.
  • Regression.

References and other links