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  • How to Teach Your Firstborn Child How to be an Ate or Kuya

    Mom-for-the-second-time and contributor, Aila Yonzon, shares some advice on how she prepared her firstborn for the birth of her sibling.
    by Aila Sim-Yonzon .
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    Read more tips on how to prepare your firstborn to become an ate or kuya.


    3) Constantly tell her that the baby loves her.

    If your firstborn is old enough to ask questions, you may hear queries like “What is she doing mom?” when the baby would kick inside your tummy. The answer I liked to give was, “She’s excited to come out and play with her Achi (Chinese for Ate) na!” Or now that I’ve given birth and my firstborn would ask the same question I’d answer, “She’s looking at her pretty Achi!” Her face would light up and she’d take great delight knowing that her little sister loves her.


    4) Big Sister/ Brother books

    There are several books that can illustrate the coming changes to your child on a level she can better understand. Cuddle up with Ate and read the book with her. These books can help concretize the new role she’ll be filling very soon.



    5) Give her a special doll or stuffed toy.

    Get Ate a doll that she can take care of.  When you’re busy taking care of the new baby, she can mirror your actions with her “own baby”. For example while mom is rocking the baby to sleep, Ate can do the same with her doll. This way she won’t feel left out or ignored while you tend to the baby. At the same time, you are teaching Ate how to handle your new baby. If you have a boy and he’s still in his toddler or preschool years, you can also give him a stuffed toy (like Barney) for him to take care of.


    6) Visit friends and relatives with babies

    It might not be clear to Ate that the bump inside mommy’s tummy will soon be her little brother or sister. Show her other babies and explain to her that soon she will have her own baby to love and take care of. Letting her see mom or dad carry other babies can also ease up on the transition that you can carry other babies and still be able to give her the attention and love she needs.



    7) Take a trip down memory lane.

    Bring out those albums and show your firstborn photos of her when she was a baby. Tell her stories of how she was like when she was a baby and tell her how excited you were when she was born. This will explain to her how she was once a baby who got that special attention and now it’s time for Ate to give that special attention to her new sibling.


    8) Be realistic.

    Even though you get Ate all excited about her new playmate, set her expectations that the baby will be very small and it will take some time before they can actually play together. Explain to her that mom and dad will have to spend a few nights at the hospital once the baby comes out but she will definitely come and visit. Tell her she can touch the baby’s feet but not her head.


    As much as possible, you’ll have to balance your time between the new baby and your firstborn. But if you took care to prepare your firstborn and follow most of the tips for teaching your firstborn child on how to be an Ate or Kuya as early as during your pregnancy, the transition time will be easier on the two of you.


    Photography by David Hanson Ong

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