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The Genius Trick to Introducing a New Sibling at the Hospital

Photograph by Twenty20

When I was expecting my second baby, I got tons of questions about what my plans were to introduce her to my older daughter.

Would I buy a gift that would be "from" the new baby? Read a ton of books about new babies to my daughter beforehand? Wait until we got home from the hospital to introduce the new baby?

I'd heard many horror stories about toddlers who went crazy when they saw their mom holding a new baby in the hospital bed or resented the new baby or asked for weeks—if not months!—if the baby could go away now or be returned.

All of those sounded terrible to me.

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Then someone suggested something completely brilliant: instead of a gift from the new baby, you send the new baby to the hospital nursery when the older sibling arrives to meet them.

So instead of arriving to find that your mysteriously-disappeared mother has apparently replaced you with a new little stranger in their arms, your child has a chance to reconnect with you without the pressure of a new baby and you can enjoy snuggling them without worrying that they're going to break the newborn.

Genius, right?!

And I can tell you, it actually works.

After delivering my second child, my husband went home to retrieve our older daughter and took her on a little trip to pick out a gift for me and the new baby before bringing her back to the hospital.

Instead of feeling replaced, my older daughter felt like she was part of bringing the new baby into our family and an integral part of welcoming her in.

He gave me a heads-up that they were on their way and I ordered lunch from the cafeteria and sent the baby down to the nursery. When they arrived, we had a little picnic lunch on the hospital bed.

Then, after about 20 minutes, when my daughter was feeling plenty of love and normality, she and my husband went down to the nursery and retrieved the new baby together, coming back with the rolling bassinet.

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Instead of feeling replaced, my older daughter felt like she was part of bringing the new baby into our family and an integral part of welcoming her in.

My toddler was overjoyed about showing off the new baby and telling me all about her, and it was so successful that we did it again two-and-a-half years later when our third daughter was born.

Of course it didn't solve every sibling issue—there's no way to introduce a new member of the family and expect zero ripples—but it was a very pleasant and loving way to start off their relationship.

And none of my children ever suggested we send the new baby back, so I'm counting it as a win.

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