How Can Having a New Sibling Affect a Child’s Development?

If you have a baby on the way, first of all, congratulations! It’s an exciting time, but if you already have a young child, you might be a little worried when it comes to your eldest. Will they be jealous and how will having a new sibling affect their development if parental focus is now shared between two of them?

It’s perfectly natural to feel some trepidation at the thought of introducing a new child into your established family unit. After all, new sibling jealousy can manifest itself in even the most placid of toddlers. 

Here, we’ll look at how having a new sibling can affect a child’s development as well as cover how to introduce a new sibling  so that any jealous instincts are kept to a minimum.  

How Can Having a New Sibling Affect a Child’s Development?

It can be easy to slip into the mindset of thinking that the impact a new sibling will have on the development of their brothers or sisters will be a negative one. But this isn’t the case at all. 

Yes, new sibling jealousy can be an issue but there are overwhelming positives to introducing a new child into the family. For example:

– Having a new sibling can play a crucial role in the way their sister and brothers understand the minds of others – their thoughts, emotions, and intentions.

– Once the younger sibling is old enough, shared play helps encourage this mindset as well as the concept of sharing and taking turns.

– When a sibling is present, it helps young children develop their social skills. Of course going to nursery plays a key role in this, but having a sibling will also help them learn how to make friends.

– It can instill in older children a sense of responsibility and show them how to be a leader.    

– And it can teach the younger sibling how to act and behave in certain situations.

Of course, when it comes to a new sibling affecting an older child’s development, there may be some unwanted situations that arise and these will primarily be caused by feelings of envy.

How a parent introduces a new sibling will play an important part in setting the tone for the future sibling relationship, so it’s important to get this right.  

How to Introduce a New Sibling 

Introducing a new sibling is the perfect time to teach your child some important values. But when it comes to introducing your child to their new sibling there are a few things to keep in mind.

Make the Experience Positive

Do your best to make sure the introduction is a positive experience. Yes, it might be nerve-wracking not knowing how your eldest child will react, and you will desperately want them to be gentle with their new little playmate when interacting with them, but try not to exhibit signs of stress.

Don’t Reprimand Your Child

Children will pick up on stress and may automatically feel that something is wrong. Try to also hold back from saying things like “Be careful!” or “Don’t do that!” as this could make your child feel that the new baby has got them into trouble and may make them afraid to interact with them.

Use a Cot for the First Introduction

It is also worth considering the physicality of how you introduce a new sibling. For example, if your child’s first introduction to the new baby is with the parents tenderly cradling the baby, this could spark jealousy. Letting your eldest first meet their new sibling whilst they’re in a cot or bassinet would help to neutralise these feelings. 

How to Handle New Sibling Jealousy 

There are several steps you can take to help lower the chances of new sibling jealousy rearing its not-so-pretty head. 

Encourage Chats with the Bump!

Before the baby is born, encourage your older child to talk to the bump. This will help them to form a  connection in advance.  

Prepare Your Home Beforehand

It is also a good idea to make any changes in the home as far in advance as possible. For example if your child needs to move to a different bedroom or to a ‘big’ bed, or if you need to introduce a cot into their room. 

Give Your Child Time to Adjust

Change can be stressful for all of us, and kids are no different. Give them time to get used to change before springing a new sibling on them!

Get Your Child Involved

Other things you can do to help them feel more involved and to reduce new sibling jealousy are to let them be part of the excitement of preparing for a new baby. Make them feel special by asking them for baby name ideas, or let them help choose toys or clothes for the baby. 

Explain How Life Will Change

Ensuring that your child is fully involved and prepared by explaining what it’ll be like when the new baby comes home will help them to enter this new phase of their life as an older sibling with positivity and pride and make it less likely that you’ll have to deal with bad behaviour and rivalry.

Socialise Your Child at Little Angels Nursery

Our nurseries are designed with growth and development in mind and young children love our toddler spaces which are fun places for them to socialise with the different age groups that we welcome to Little Angels each day. 

This positive interaction can really help an only child become more comfortable with the idea of having a younger sibling. 

If you’d like to find out more about how Little Angels nurseries near Southwark Bridge and Perkins Square can help your child learn and grow in a warm and welcoming environment, sign up for one of our nursery open days or download a brochure now.