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‘Sundan Na ‘Yan’: How To Prepare Your Child For A New Sibling
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  • Are you finally having a second baby? Or maybe you’re just thinking about adding another bundle of joy to your family? 

    Or maybe, you finally gave in to the titas who keep urging you with, “Sundan na ‘yan!” Whatever the case may be, congratulations! It’s definitely going to be a thrilling time. 

    Aside from the usual preparations like saving up for childbirth and getting the right check-ups, don’t forget to prepare your child (or children) to be a kuya or ate. A firstborn, especially, might have mixed feelings of excitement for a new sibling and misery over losing your undivided attention. 

    Even those with one or more siblings already can be jealous and act out. That’s why it’s important to really plan the transition.

    What should I do to prepare for a second baby?

    Whoever says that it gets easier as you have more kids is most likely not a mom of two or more. Raising not just one tiny human comes with many challenges—the first of which would be preparing the older kid/s. 

    When should you tell them? What or how do you tell them? What do you do if they react violently? These are just some of the things to brace yourself for.

    When and how should I tell my child about a new sibling?

    In an article for Child Mind Institute, Mandi Silverman, PsyD says, “It’s always best to be honest to avoid making kids anxious about what’s happening.” 

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    When it comes to timing, the clinical psychologist adds, “So don’t wait too long to tell your child.” For example, if the child suddenly notices your tummy getting bigger or that you always go to the doctor, they may have wild ideas. Same goes when you leave home for a few days for labor and delivery. 

    They might think you’re sick or you ate a whole watermelon. Before a major change happens, it’s best to start the conversation with the child. Explain things to them in terms they can understand and encourage them to ask as many questions as they want. 

    And when it comes to the announcement, make it appropriate to their age. Dr. Silverman suggests saying something along the lines of, “There’s one more person to love. There’s somebody new to spend time with. 

    “Watching the baby do new things, and teaching him things, will be fun. Holidays will be even more special when there’s a new baby.”

    What else can I do to make sure the first child doesn’t get jealous?

    There are many ways to address this concern. The point of it all is to reassure the kuya or ate that even though there will be someone else in the picture, they will always be loved. Here are some things to try:

    1. Spend more quality time with the child.

    Have a “babymoon” (or lots of it) with your OG baby (or babies). Travel or simply allot time for special activities together at home. 

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    Celebrity mom Sarah Lahbati had to ease their son Zion into becoming a kuya to Kai back in 2018. She mentioned that she and hubby Richard Gutierrez made it a point to make a lot of good memories with Zion before Kai arrived. 

    In an interview for Pep.ph, Sarah said, “Yes, you’re going to be really busy making preparations for caring for an infant again. But this may cause your firstborn to feel a little neglected. This is why I made it a point to have some alone time with Zion.” The then-trio even took a short trip to Hong Kong that time.

    2. Hype the new baby but still make your child feel needed.

    Get the kid excited, but don’t oversell the new sibling. Having a new brother or sister will definitely have perks like having a constant playmate, a companion, and eventually a confidante. 

    But while they’re very young, babies are also very needy—which is exactly why your firstborn has a crucial role to play (and they have to know that).

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    Consider telling your child something like, “Oh, itong baby kailangan padedehin. Kailangan palitan ng diaper every hour. Kailangan ihele para makatulog. Marami pang iba at dependent siya sa atin. Tutulungan mo ba kami?” 

    Then, involve the firstborn in childcare eventually or have them practice with a doll. You might even involve the firstborn in shopping for new baby stuff, picking out a name, and other fun preparations. Not only will they feel included but also learn responsibility in the process.

    3. Still make the child feel special.

    Of course, you can’t force them to grow up too soon. And there has to be some reassurance that his needs will still be taken care of.

    Tell the child that you’ll still spend time and play together. Encourage the child to voice out anything like if the baby is being too loud and making them uncomfortable. 

    When it comes to attention or even buying new toys or treats, don’t let the older child feel like the younger one gets everything, and they get nothing. Sarah shares how she told visitors to still talk or play with the eldest child. 

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    This can help prevent them from getting jealous. “In fact, if your friends and relatives come over with gifts for the baby, maybe including a small toy or token for your firstborn would keep him in good spirits…” she says.

    4. Watch for signs of regression. 

    It’s normal for kids to regress when they get too distressed about the arrival of a new baby. A toilet-trained child might wet the bed or suddenly want to breastfeed again after being weaned off it. 

    They can also act out, have night terrors, and other concerning behaviors. Kristin Carothers, PhD, a clinical psychologist, says, “It’s children’s way of making sure their parents are aware that they still need them, and it helps them to get the attention they crave.”

    When these do happen, take stock of what your routine has been. Think back on what you’ve been saying to the child and how (or if at all) you’ve been spending time with them. 

    Don’t get tired of reassuring them that you’re still there for them and making them feel valued. Praise positive or mature behaviors like when they give way to the younger sibling or when they help, so you can reinforce them.

    Every older child will be different when you have a new baby—some will jump for joy while others might throw an epic tantrum. Some kids become troublemakers and others learn traits that make their personality more impressive. 

    Take the time to ease them into their new role and never get tired of giving them reassurances. 

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