Baby Safety for Siblings: Teaching Older Kids How to Treat A Baby
If the new baby you'll be bringing home has an older brother or sister, then an important part of baby safety involves making sure older kids know how to safely treat an infant. Siblings are so commonly either an actor or spectator in the dangerous situations that arise. This is why our organization has pioneered a special emphasis on sibling safety training. Older siblings can create the dangerous situations that lead to accidents, and they can also act in life-saving ways to avert catastrophe by stepping in when a parent is distracted and a younger sibling has found something dangerous. The difference between disaster-enabler and heroic savior often rests on how well parents educate their children in child safety matters.
Thus, a big part of ensuring a safe environment for your infant is training big brother or big sister about baby safety basics. This will help ensure they don't try to share their candy with baby, or provide them with choking hazards to gnaw on, or give inappropriate toys to play with, or throw a blanket into their crib, or do any of the myriad of other things they might do in good spirit but without realizing the danger. Baby safety education will also teach them to take away that piece of plastic wrapping that baby is about to put in their mouth while you're in the bathroom, or to alert you when baby might have found something dangerous. Even kids as young as three can help serve as extra eyes and ears for baby safety. (Just don't rely on kids to do your supervision for you; they should be a backup measure only.)
Teaching older siblings baby safety
Teaching siblings the basics of safe caregiving involves making them knowledgeable about the same baby safety habits we provide for parents. Here are some tips for imparting that knowledge to them, as well as some other good safety rules for older siblings:
1. Before the baby is born, prepare them ahead of time by talking about all the things mommies and daddies do to keep babies safe. As you walk throughout the house or as they shadow you during household chores, talk about all the things that could be dangerous to the baby. After you've made them familiar with some of the dangers, make it fun by turning it into a game of I spy to see who can spot (and the other person guess) items that would be dangerous to baby. At dinner, talk about how babies eat different foods and what is safe for them to eat. Engage in similar conversations as you're watching TV. Do your best to incorporate this learning into everyday life.
2. Tell them stories about all the mischievous things they used to get into when they were a baby. Kids love hearing stories abut themselves, and it's a good way to teach safety.
3. Talk about how important it is to act good for mom and dad once baby arrives, since they'll be busier than normal for a little while in taking care of baby. Emphasize that the better they behave for parents, the more time and patience mom and dad will have to give you.
Big Sibling Safety Resources
* Print a baby safety cut and paste worksheet for your child
* Read your big brother or sister our free printable safety book What Bigger Kids Can Do, which teaches them some basic information on keeping little kids a safe.