Helping nursery children adjust to a new sibling

Having a new sibling is a big change in a toddler’s life, so they will need you to be sensitive, supportive and understanding whilst they come to terms with it.

Big sister smiling at baby brother laying on the floor

Children going through the transition may feel anxiety, sadness, anger, disorientation or excitement. You should work with your nursery children and their families to provide a safe and secure environment in which they feel supported and relaxed.

Here are some top tips for helping your nursery children adjust to the new addition in their lives.

Prepare the child for change

Introduce the subject of a new baby well before the baby is born to help them prepare for change and provide opportunities for them to discuss their feelings, for example through circle time. You could introduce the use of emotion fans if they are struggling to express their feelings through words.

This will ensure they know and understand what is going to happen/when it is going to happen and will have clear expectations. Keep their parents informed so that they can also prepare and support the child in feeling positive about upcoming changes at home.

Big sister and baby brother playing with xylophone

Encourage their interest in babies

Encourage children to take an interest in the baby, even if they don’t show enthusiasm initially, it will increase their engagement and consideration.

  • Share stories with the nursery children about babies and talk about brothers and sisters
  • Ask them to bring in baby photos and talk to the toddler about what they were like as a baby
  • Talk about what babies need and how older children can help out

Helping them to feel important as the baby’s big brother or sister is vital for their self-esteem.

Maintain routine

Once the baby is born, it’s important to try to keep the toddler’s routine while also trying to involve them in looking after their sibling. This will reassure them that their everyday won’t be majorly affected, but will gradually integrate the two.

If it is not possible to maintain the same routine, work with the child’s parents to introduce a new routine a few months before the birth or a few months after the arrival of the baby.

Jealousy is normal

Invite the parent to bring the baby in to your setting, and then ask the toddler to introduce them to the children and staff. Accept that the toddler might be resentful and jealous of the baby which is a normal reaction and encourage them to share their feelings.

Some children regress for a while, so a toilet-trained child may start wetting themselves again if they feel anxious or want to gain your attention. Focus on their positive behaviour during this temporary period and give them lots of praise to help them feel secure and valued.


  • childcare
  • early years
  • Maintain routine
  • new sibling
  • prepare for change

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