Three of the people I love the most and am closest to are my brother and sisters. I’m always happy to see them and, like the best old friends, we can catch up with each other’s news in a moment. These relationships are not an accident, however. They are the result of our parents’ efforts over the course of all of our lives to remind us that these, our siblings, are people we can count on. This work starts the minute a child learns that they are about to become an older sister or brother.
For a child under the age of four, it is not always clear where the baby is coming from and so it does help to demonstrate that the baby grows inside their mother. Many parenting guides recommend having a child come to some prenatal visits and some obstetricians, family doctors, and midwives include a visit for the whole family as part of their standard prenatal care. In fact, it is no longer unusual for older siblings to be present for a birth, especially when a child is being born at home.
The most important thing a child needs to know when they are expecting a sibling is that they are going to continue to be an important part of the family and that no new baby will ever replace them. This is a good time to reinforce a child’s gifts and special qualities. It is also an important time to remind a child of their ongoing importance by sharing pictures and memories of them through all stages of their lives.