Ask Sarah: Preparing an Older Sibling for a New Baby

Struggling with tantrums, bedtime boundaries, or simply wondering how to raise happy, confident kids? Sarah Rosensweet offers peaceful parenting advice to help families find balance.

Have a question for Sarah? Send us an email at

Q: What is the best way to prepare a child for a new baby? My son will be 5 when ours arrives next year, and I’m nervous he will not adjust well after being an only child for so long.

-Mom of one and one on the way

A: It’s wonderful that you want this to be the best transition for your child. You’re right that it likely will be hard for him. However, you can do a few things to make it easier.

Whenever we have a new baby, our older child can feel replaced. If we have them, why do we need another child? Feeling this way is especially true for sensitive children. It applies no matter how old the older child is, even if they are excited and happy about the new baby at the same time.

Here’s what you can do to make things easier:

Make time for one-on-one time with each parent every day. Your child needs to know that you are still “theirs.” It doesn’t have to be a trip to the aquarium or anywhere elaborate, but spending 15-20 minutes a day playing with your child can go a long way.

In peaceful parenting, we call this Special Time. Turn off distractions, ensure you won’t be interrupted and say, “I’m all yours for the next 20 minutes. What do you want to do?” I have a guide that explains this tool in more detail.

If you can’t manage Special Time every day, do it longer on the weekend or when you have support. Find micro-moments of connection to make your child feel special in everyday moments. ‘Delight’ in your child throughout the day: A smile, a compliment, a joke, or an unexpected hug are easily attainable if we remind ourselves to be intentional with connection.

Expect big feelings and help your child process them through laughter and tears

Between all the changes that a new baby brings and the fears and worries your older child might have about being replaced, your child will have a lot of big feelings.

Whenever possible, get your child laughing to help him release all the stresses and tensions from his body.

Tears are also a healthy and necessary form of release; welcome them. They also help your child to process all the big feelings and changes he may be experiencing.

Remember that your child may regress, and you may see an uptick in challenging behaviour.

You WILL get your child back. This transition, while joyful, is also very hard on them. Regression and “bad” behaviour happen when kids are low on resources. Remind yourself that they are not giving you a hard time; they are having a hard time.

Sarah Rosensweet is a certified peaceful parenting coach, speaker, and educator. She lives in Toronto with her husband and her 15 and 18-year-old kids. Her 22-year-old son has launched.

Peaceful parenting is a non-punitive, connection-based approach that uses firm limits with lots of empathy. Sarah works one-on-one virtually with parents all over the world to help them go from frustrated and overwhelmed to “we’ve got this!”

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