Helping Your Children Understand the Premature Birth of a Sibling

Having a premature baby is not always easy for a parent. The stress of dealing with your other children, who suddenly feel left out and confused by your baby’s condition, can be overwhelming. But there are ways you can help them understand what’s going on and make things easier for everyone involved.

Being the parent of a premature baby can be confronting, but plenty of support is available to you:

  • Get help from your friends and family. Your loved ones should understand that it’s OK for them to ask questions about how your baby was born or what they need at this point. They should also know that if any family members feel overwhelmed by all these new feelings, they can seek professional help from their doctor or midwife (if they don’t have one yet).


  • Talk with psychologists or psychiatrists who specialize in dealing with issues related to being a parent. Under normal circumstances, this may mean going through some training first before seeing one regularly as part of an ongoing treatment plan designed specifically around helping yourself cope better than before becoming parents – especially since dealing with an unexpected pregnancy could make life seem much more stressful right away!


What do I tell my older children?

Suppose you’re the parent of an older child who has a sibling with premature birth. In that case, it’s essential to understand that your older child may feel confused and overwhelmed. These feelings are natural but can also overpower both children and parents.

You might think, “What can I tell my older children about their premature sibling?”

The short answer is the same thing you would tell them if they were sick.

You can tell them they’re strong and brave, but they need to be extra gentle and kind with their little sister or brother. You can also tell them they’ve got a lot of love to give and should be there for their sibling no matter what happens.

The long answer is: that you should talk to them about how to take care of your premature sibling in a way that makes sense for them. For example, if your child is still in grade school, they might not understand why their baby sister needs special care (for example, why she won’t be able to play with toys). And suppose one of your children has had a rough week at school or home. In that case, they might not understand why their baby sister or brother needs special care (for example, why they are sicker).


Explain to the other children (when the baby is still in the NICU) that the baby needs to stay there to get the treatment and care she needs.

When you have to be in hospital, explain why you cannot go home yet to the other children. Explain that their mother needs time away to take care of their newborn sibling and give them a feeling of reassurance about her ability to care for herself, even if she’s sick.

Be honest with your older children about what is happening in their lives. Don’t sugarcoat anything or make up stories about why you’re not around more often than usual—it will only confuse them further! Talk about their feelings (and don’t dismiss any questions). If they ask questions like “Why did Mommy have to go away?” or “Where did she go?” tell them honestly without making excuses that aren’t true (like saying she was visiting family members).

It’s important that your other children understand why the baby must stay in the NICU and know how much they need to be patient with them. Sometimes kids will misunderstand when they don’t understand something well enough. So explaining again and again—and being patient while they do it—is important.

Premature Birth of a Sibling

Dividing your attention between your premature baby and other children.

It can be hard to divide your attention between your older children and a premature baby. Still, it’s essential to keep them involved. It would help if you did everything possible to keep them healthy and happy for their well-being and happiness. This means making sure that you make room for them in your life and giving them opportunities to interact cautiously with the baby as often as possible!

It is important that your older child understand premature birth.

Here are some tips:

  1. Talk about what an early baby looks like and what their life might be like.
  2. Explain that premature babies have very different needs from full-term babies. They need to get the best care possible from doctors and nurses trained to help these babies grow up healthy and strong.
  3. Let them know that premature babies can have many problems and good things happening simultaneously, so they need lots of attention from adults (especially parents) just like any other baby does!


You will also need to explain that there are things you are doing so that both babies will be well cared for while you are in hospital:

  • Make sure they get enough rest each day
  • Eat nutritious meals every day (including breast milk or formula)


Let your children know that they played a role in helping their siblings by allowing mom and dad to focus their attention on the baby.

This can be done by explaining that the other children are helping the baby by being good, happy, healthy, patient, understanding, kind, and gentle.

Encourage your older children to discuss their feelings and answer questions honestly.


When your older children talk about how they feel, encourage them to talk about their feelings honestly. If they feel sad, ask them how they’re feeling and why. You can also ask them if there are things that you can do to help them feel better.

You can explain the baby’s condition in simple terms but try not to overwhelm them with medical jargon. They must understand how their little sister or brother is doing, so tell them what the doctor has told them and answer any questions they have as best as possible.

Help your children maintain a close relationship with mom and dad while dealing with your premature baby.

Your other children will be dealing with a lot of changes, too. You need to help them understand that the baby needs your help and that they are still important in their mother’s life.

  • Don’t neglect your older children! Make sure you spend quality time with the older ones, too—not just when it’s convenient for you or because they’re around more often than usual (which is always lovely). If possible, visit your preemie while they’re at school to get some rest!
  • Don’t make your older children feel guilty. They don’t need to feel guilty about losing sleep over their new sibling; instead, reassure them that there’s no way anyone could expect them not to be excited about this new little face who seems like she might grow up fast enough already! And even if things do go wrong sometimes (and they always do), remember how much fun we all had while growing up together as well, so don’t worry too much about whether things seem perfectly natural now—they probably won’t either 🙂


You need to keep your other children healthy and happy, but try not to feel guilty for putting your premature baby first.


You have to be flexible and work around your other children’s needs. It may sometimes be necessary to let them cry or be emotional to process the situation better. Still, they mustn’t feel abandoned or left out of the process. Talk with them about what is going on and why they can’t go out with their friends yet. Try not to worry too much if they ask questions like why? Why should we wait? What happens if I do something wrong?

It’s also OK if you want another child who has never been in this situation before! With all due respect: no one knows what tomorrow brings until it happens; we all have different challenges ahead of us each day (and sometimes even within an hour). So enjoy every minute together as a family unit while there is still time left over from our last day together–because no matter how old someone becomes when birth occurs early enough…no, matter how much time passes between conception date + delivery date…no matter where life takes us after being told that everything would go smoothly…there will always be moments where things don’t go according to plan but instead take unexpected twists & turns so there’s no way around those moments either; so make sure those moments count too 🙂

Ultimately, your premature baby is still your little one, and they deserve to be your primary focus. It’s important to remember that you can still help everyone else in the family with this news. If you need more tips or advice on how to make this transition easier for everyone involved, please don’t hesitate to contact a specialist pediatrician or psychologist.


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