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Parents Panel: How did you prepare your child for a new little brother or sister?

From bringing them to scans to letting them announce it.

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AS PART OF TheJournal.ie’s weekly Family Magazine, we wanted to create a space for parents to share their views. A place where mums and dads could share their experiences, lessons learned, and even mistakes along the way. With that in mind, we’ve launched TheJournal.ie Parents Panel.

This week, we’re asking our panel all about the minefield of additional siblings: How did you prepare your child for a brother or sister?

Here’s what they had to say…

Parents Panel All 7

Top L-R: Olly Keegan, Alan Dooley, Denise, Ken Hyland. Middle L-R: Ríona Flood, Ross Boxshall, Marta Lisiecka, Denise Cumiskey. Bottom L-R: Kait Quinn, Susannah O’Brien, Derek McInerney, Suzie Kelly.

We brought them along for scans
We didn’t really have any sort of plan in place – it just happened naturally. We always brought the older kids along for any scans, so they could see that there was indeed a baby in there, and not just all the magnums I was eating! When number three was born, number two was not at all impressed. She was very aware she had been knocked off her pedestal. But she quickly got over it and began following me from room to room with “mommy can I please hold him again?” on constant repeat.

 - Susannah O’Brien

We made a fuss of them
My daughter was only 18 months old when my son was born. When I was obviously pregnant we used to touch my belly and say ‘baby’. She had no understanding but she used to say ‘baby’ to my belly all of the time. When he was born we made a big fuss of her and always called him ‘her little brother’.

- Denise

We let our eldest announce it
When it came to us discussing it with our first, she was very specific with her requirements – she wanted twins, one boy and one girl! We said that that may not be possible, but she told us in no uncertain terms that it was, as she had seen it on Peppa Pig. As luck would have it, she got her request, we had boy/girl twins. When it came to having our fourth, we got our first born involved early on as she was given the job of being the bearer of our pregnancy news to everybody, including our closest family.

 - Ross Boxshall

babypic 4 Source: Susannah O'Brien

It was hard telling them as teenagers
My kids were older (18 and 14), so when I discovered I was pregnant I thought it would be a bit more easier to tell them. How wrong was I! My 18 year old was disgusted. My 14 year old was in a state of shock but they eventually came round. She is two years old now and we can’t remember the house without her.

  - Denise Cumiskey

The baby ‘brought’ our oldest a present
I brought him into the hospital on the day to meet his new brother. He was really excited at the thought of it, but got nervous and shy as we went in. The biggest shock was seeing his mammy in this strange building in a strange bed so she made a big deal out of seeing him. He loved the present we told him the baby had brought him – it was all in after that.

 - Alan Dooley

He took his cot eviction in his stride
As Karen’s bump grew she would sit Daniel down beside her and have him rub her bump and tell him that soon his new brother or sister would come home with mammy from the hospital. As he got older, he became more aware of changes happening in the house. He was evicted from the cot onto a junior bed, just before Nathan was born. Thankfully he took this in his stride.

 - Ken Hyland

baby pics 3 Source: Susannah O'Brien

It is very hard for the first child when the second one is on the way. We went shopping for baby clothes together and read loads of books about brothers. It’s important to reassure them that they are still important. I told my son his baby brother would be bringing a gift with him which I gave my son in the hospital – it worked a treat and distracted him.

 -Suzie Kelly

Tymek (Timothy) is the only child so far but if it were to happen, I would definitely explain it to him as soon as possible. Depending on how old he’d be I’ll explain to him about where babies come from. I would involve him in things like choosing the outfit for the baby or a first cuddly toy/blanket. I would explain that babies need a lot of attention but when they grow up they’re loads of fun and can be your best friends.

 Marta Lisiecka

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More from our Parents Panel: What do you put in your child’s lunchbox?>

More from our Parents Panel: How did you wean your little one onto solid foods?>

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