Resources / For families

Big Changes & Big Feelings: New Sibling

Blog image: Big Changes & Big Feelings: New Sibling
Dominica Fox-DeMarco, MA, NBC-HWC
Dominica Fox-DeMarco, MA, NBC-HWC

Mar 26, 2024

Adding a child to your family is an exciting, joyful time! Especially if you have other kids that will become big brothers or sisters. But this joy may not come as naturally or as quickly for your other child/kids. Will they be excited? Yes! But they’ll also feel some other feelings too. From when to tell them to how to help them through it, we have guidance for every step.

Sharing the news

Telling your child as soon as possible will help ease the transition. If you’ve had pregnancy or infant losses before, give yourself permission to wait until you’re emotionally more comfortable. If you know your child enjoys surprises, make how you tell them a memorable experience. Surprise them with a cake or dress the dog up with a cute bandana that says they're going to be a big brother/sister. While acknowledging that change is hard, emphasize that this is a good thing for the family. The language you use matters too. Age-appropriate language might sound like, “There’s one more person in our family we get to show our love to.” or “We get to spend more time with someone, watch the baby try new things, and teach them things you’ve learned already. It will be fun!” 

New sibling, mixed feelings

When you bring a new child into your family, your other kids may experience jealousy and insecurity, or start having more tantrums. Mixed feelings are very common during this type of transition. You can also expect your child to potentially act younger as they’re seeking the kind of attention the baby gets. This behavior sends a message to the parents that the child still looks to you to get their needs met. It’s also normal to see a sleep regression.

Toddler or preschool age kids may not grasp the aspect of time. Instead of telling them when the baby is due, share the season. “Baby will arrive when it gets really hot outside and we go swimming!” A toddler may not show much of a reaction when the parents are pregnant, but may show regression and confusion once the baby is born and becomes more mobile. Preschool-age kids may have a harder time sharing with their new sibling. 

School-age kids may feel more curious and less threatened by the child. However, pay attention to their stronger value of fairness, they may not understand why the baby is being treated differently at times.

What can they expect when you’re expecting?

Prepare your child for the upcoming hospital stay. Make them aware you’ll be away for a few days while you have the baby. Ask whoever is taking care of your child to incorporate extra special time with them. Once the baby arrives, let your child be the first and only person to come visit their new sibling. This will help with a sense of belonging and help them start to feel more grounded that this is their new addition to the family.

How can you ease the transition? 

Include your child in certain decisions. Let your child be a part of setting up the nursery or picking out items for their younger sibling. Teach your child how to interact with babies through doll play, mostly how to be patient and nurturing with the baby. Assign your child a special duty to help out when the baby comes, like holding the wipes while you change the diaper. Encourage your child to make or give a gift to their new sibling. 

Juggling one more child will be an adjustment, and you may find yourself more focused on the baby. When your older child asks to play with you, and you're busy with the baby, say something like “I want to play with you too. What do you want to play when your baby sister is done eating?”

What are some important dos/donts?


  • Praise your child when they help out with the baby and treat the baby kindly.

  • Continue to validate their complex emotions with the addition of the new baby.

  • Spend extra 1:1 time with your child, even after the baby arrives.


  • Force them into being comfortable with the baby; allow all feelings to be present.

  • Try to introduce new transition periods such as potty training, going to a new bed, etc.

Above all, make them feel special. Give them lots of extra affection. Don’t punish them if their behavior regresses, instead try to be understanding, compassionate, and supportive. Assure them that nobody can take their place and you love them very much.

For more guidance and support on navigating big life changes, get in touch with one of our coaches or therapists to learn more. Sign up today.