Disappointment over a baby's gender is a normal reaction for young children.

How Should Parents Prepare Siblings for the Baby's Gender?

by Candice Coleman

Mom and Dad's newest arrival can seem like a threat to Junior, who might fear his prized status as top and only child is about to go extinct. Not knowing the baby's sex can complicate issues: What might it be like to have a baby brother instead of a baby sister? Preparing your children for the birth of a baby can be an exciting time as children make the transition to "big brother" or "big sister" to the baby. Focusing on your child's "promotion" can make a baby's gender less of an issue to your children.

1. Discussions

Older children might start asking questions about the new baby as soon as the pregnancy is announced. Take the time to ask plenty of questions yourself. What do your children expect being a big sibling will be like? What will the new baby be like? Explain that girls can enjoy the same activities as boys can. Tell your children that a little sister can enjoy a game of baseball as much as a little boy can enjoy playing games with his older sisters. Moms and dads should divulge the baby's gender as soon as they find out to give children time to adjust.

2. Baby Preparations

"Big brother" or "big sister" isn't just a title -- it's a responsibility. Get the older kids involved in picking out items for the nursery. Afterward, take your purchases home and get to work putting the new nursery together. Feeling involved can take away some of the anxiety or disappointment children might feel about the baby's gender. Let the kids know which names you have picked out -- your older kids might surprise you by putting in name ideas of their own. Accept the ideas graciously, even if you do not plan to use any of the names.

3. Older Siblings' Feelings

Older siblings might feel disappointment and mild depression after learning that instead of a new baby sister, a new baby brother is coming. Allow children to express their disappointment. Keep your voice calm and ask questions about why the baby's gender is a disappointment. As time progresses, children should start to feel better about the baby's gender. Sibling preparation classes at community centers might also help alleviate some of the anxiety siblings might be feeling.

4. After the Baby's Birth

A short visit with the baby after the birth can help kids adjust to the idea of having a new little brother or sister. Give older children as much attention and affection as possible and consider giving older children gifts from the new baby. A "baby sister" shirt for the newborn, while all of the older children wear "big brother" or "big sister" shirts, can help children mentally adjust to the new family.

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