Advice for Gwen & Gavin: Introducing Your New Baby to an Older Sibling

08/22/2008 at 10:00 AM ET

Gwen_stefani_mr_fp_252284cbbGwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale must be over the moon about the arrival of their new son, Zuma Nesta Rock. While the second-time parents know their baby basics, this time around, they’ll need to help big brother Kingston James McGregor, 2, adjust to life as a sibling. To help the family work through any rivalry issues between Kingston and Zuma, we consulted baby care experts Dr. William Sears, author of more than 30 parenting books, including The Baby Book, and Jennifer Waldburger, co-author of The Sleepeasy Solution.

Click Continue Reading for six great tips from our experts!

  1. Make friends before birth. Play show and tell with the older sibling. "When the baby stars kicking in the womb, let the child pat and talk to the baby," says Dr. Sears. "Pregnancy is an abstract idea for most kids, so show them pictures of your more advanced sonograms, to help them understand what’s going on," adds Jennifer. Most importantly, make the experience fun for everyone. "You market to the older child what they’re going to gain more than what they’re going to lose," Dr. Sears says.
  2. Replay your child’s babyhood. Sit down and page through your elder child’s baby book, and show him or her images from after birth, coming home, nursing and diaper changes. "Replay what the sibling went through, so that he or she knows what to expect," says Dr. Sears. Jennifer suggests starting a new book, too, about becoming an older sibling, so children have a better sense of what will be changing when baby comes home.
  3. Present a gift to the sibling. Offer a gift to your child — maybe a baby doll, teddy bear or stuffed animal — which gives the him or her an opportunity to feel as though he or she has a baby, too. And a note to friends: When visiting those with a newborn, remember to bring a little something for the sibling so he or she doesn’t feel left out.
  4. Timeshare. "What bothers most siblings is that they don’t want to share their parents with the new baby," says Dr. Sears. "They’re preoccupied with what they’ve lost." Because of this, when the sibling loses a lot of mom time, he or she needs to gain more dad time, so there’s no "net loss." Jennifer also recommends dads have a temporary sleep-over with the older sibling throughout the first week after birth. "It may feel to them that people are up at night, and that the baby is in mom and dad’s room and they’re all alone," she says. Having a parent in bed with them will provide added sense of security.
  5. Let your older child help. "Involve the toddler in the care of the baby — make him or her mommy’s little helper, so he or she feels important," Dr. Sears advises. They can help with feeding and diaper changes; though Jennifer warns not to force anything on them. "The older child needs to find their own way with getting to know the baby."
  6. Don’t make any big transitions. Jennifer warns against potty training, switching beds or moving homes while pregnant, as to not disturb your older child’s routine. Keep structure in their lives, too, when it comes to play time, meals, bed time and other activities. "A child needs two to four months to adjust to a baby being part of his or her life, and really has to settle into routines again, before you ask him or her to make other changes," she says.

A final reminder: Never stop telling your child how much you care about them. Says Jennifer, "Tell them, ‘Even with the addition of the new baby, mommy and daddy’s hearts will grow big enough to love all of you.’" 

Photo by Flynet.

How did you deal with the arrival of a new baby in your family? Leave your own tips and advice for Gwen and Gavin!

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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Showing 7 comments

Tigerlily on

The comment made about the gift is too true. we gave our daughter a doll when i was heavily pregnant so that she would feel like a mom with me. it helped to keep her at ease with the whole situation.

I have said this before but congratulations to Gwen, Gavin and Kingston on the arrival of baby Zuma!

Nicole on

I agree with the gift as well. I had read something somewhere while I was pregnant about giving the older child a present from the baby.

I just gave birth on 7-29. My son is 2.5 years old. We gave him a “Wonder Pets” flyboat “from his brother” a few minutes after their first meeting. He thinks his baby brother bought it for him. After he got over the initial excitement of his new present, he ran over to the bed (where I was holding the baby) and screamed, “Thanks, Evan!” My husband got that on video, Thank God! It was SO cute!!

lilith on

With all my respect, but isn’t it a little bit pretentious to title this post
“Advice for Gwen and Gavin” and then writing ” they’ll need help” and “we consulted baby care experts”?
I know that this post was certainly meant as a general advice for parents who have to introduce a new sibling to their kids and as a thread to discuss one’s different experiences, which i much appreciate, but still…the introduction reads like “CBB knows best, Gwen and Gavin you just listen”.
Hm, maybe i’m just nit-picking.

Janis on

Nicole, that is such a sweet story!

Amellia on

I really agree with the transitions ideas. We learned the hard way not to get the older child out of the crib and in to a “big boy” bed. He was all for it until a few weeks later when the little “intruder” was in his old crib. He proceeded to throw a fit and demand the baby get out of his “bed”. It took awhile and more than a few nights of tears and screaming before he accepted that was the way things were going to happen. So definitely wait until things settle if you can (ie new baby is in a cradle or bassinet for the time being) before introducing the big boy/girl bed.

Also everybody who brought a gift for the baby remembered Corey also and that seemed to make him very happy.

Crystal V on

Aw Nicole that is such a sweet story!

Jean on

Older brother being at the homebirth (2.5 years old) with his own support person there to help him out worked for us. There was no “transition” really for him – he knew that the baby was the same one that was in me and wasn’t going anywhere. He flew down the hallway (he’d chosen not to be in the crowded room for the birth) when he heard the baby cry screaming “MY BABY! YAY!”.

Also, wearing the baby as much as possible. When I had baby in a sling he could be nursing, sleeping, whatever and was quiet and close to me while I played with his brother with no interruptions. Baby got the closeness he needed and big brother didn’t notice much of a change at all.