Teaching your child: Preparing your child for the birth of a sibling

June 22, 2000

Teaching your child

Preparing your child for the birth of a sibling

Sibling classes are offered at Washington County Hospital's Dorsey Hall, 251 E. Antietam St. in Hagerstown, on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month at 9 a.m. The class prepares children ages 3 to 8 for the birth of a sibling. The class is taken the month prior to delivery date. The cost is $10 in advance with snacks included. To register, call The Family Birthing Center at 301-790-8214.By LISA TEDRICK PREJEAN

"Mommy, I wish I had you all to myself."

My son was pouting because I was holding his sister. It didn't matter that I had just pushed his swing for 20 minutes, bathed him, wrapped him in a towel and held him on my lap as he chattered away about his day.

What mattered was that I wasn't holding him at that moment.

Amy Bowers, who had her second son, Kenton, two and a half weeks ago, says her older boy, Ethan, expresses similar feelings.


"He gets jealous when we spend more time with the baby," says Bowers, of State Line, Pa. "He wants to be carried like a baby."

But Ethan likes to help at diaper-changing time by handing his mom the wipes. He also wants to kiss his brother "all the time," Bowers says.

"He's adjusting better than we thought."

Most parents do a good job at preparing their children for the birth of a sibling, says Lynne Waldron, a nurse who teaches sibling preparation classes at Washington County Hospital.

The classes allow the child to see the hospital and enable the child to hold, diaper and swaddle a life-like baby doll, Waldron says.

Waldron provides these tips for parents:

* Before the baby is born, have the older child help with decorating the nursery and other preparations.

* Tell the child that he will be the helper once the baby arrives. He can hand Mom a diaper at changing time or be in charge of the wipes.

* Talk about the changes in Mommy's body that the child will notice: It's difficult to sit on Mommy's lap because her tummy is expanding. The baby is in a special place inside Mommy.

* Equate the baby's home to what it feels like to be in a swimming pool.

* Talk about what babies can do inside Mommy - kick, suck their thumbs, drink, hiccup.

* Tell the child how he can help if the baby begins to cry. He can sing to the baby or show the baby a brightly colored book.

* If the older child complains about how much time you're spending with the baby, tell him that when he was a baby, you had to spend this much time taking care of him, too.

Sometimes I become frustrated when both kids vie for my attention. But what a humbling experience it is to be loved, wanted and appreciated so much.

A wise person once said that with each child your heart expands its capacity to love.

How true it is.

Tell us what you're trying to teach your child. We'll ask an expert for advice. Call Lifestyle Editor Lisa Tedrick Prejean at 301-733-5131, ext. 2340, write to her at P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, Md. 21741, send a fax to 301-714-0245 or e-mail her at

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