If you're going to have a new brother or sister, you'll want to know some baby facts. Answer this question — A new baby is:

  1. smelly
  2. funny
  3. annoying
  4. great
  5. all of the above

The answer is #5, of course!

Babies are wonderful, but they can also wake you up at night. They dribble, spit, and make lots and lots of dirty diapers. They can't talk, walk, or go to the bathroom like you do! Because they need so much care, your mom and dad will be busy making sure the baby gets the rest, food, clean diapers, and love he or she needs. But just because your parents are busy with the baby doesn't mean they love you any less — they just love the baby too!

It can be a lot of fun to have a new baby in the house, but it can be tiring, too. You might love the baby right from the start. But it's also OK if you miss the way things were before the baby came. If you feel left out or need some attention, tell your mom or dad. Also be sure to tell a parent if you're having trouble getting your homework done or you're not getting enough sleep.

Before the Baby Arrives

A baby takes 9 months to grow big enough to be born. Before the baby comes, ask your parents any questions that you have. Where will the baby sleep? Who will take care of you while everyone is at the hospital? Some hospitals offer classes for kids who are about to be big sisters or big brothers. These classes help kids learn about babies so they know what to expect.

You also can learn about babies by getting books out of the library. But the best way is to spend time with a real, live baby. Maybe your mom or dad can arrange for you to visit a friend who has a young baby. Then you'll get to see how a baby looks, smells, and sounds!

Who Is This Little Person?

When it is time for the baby to be born, your mom will probably spend a few nights at the hospital. After the baby arrives, you can visit her in the maternity ward where the babies are delivered. There you can get your first look at the newest member of your family.

Expect your brother or sister to be small, squirmy, and sleepy. When they're first born, babies are too little to play with toys or play peek-a-boo with you. They're just getting adjusted to the world. In time, your baby sister or brother will be able to smile at you, laugh, and play. But for now, babies mostly want to sleep, snuggle, and eat.

The Baby Comes Home

So what can you do at home with the baby? Early on, you can be a wonderful help to your mom and dad. If you're old enough, you may be able to hold or feed the baby. Your mom and dad can show you the right way to care for your brother or sister. You'll have to learn the rules for what you're allowed to do on your own and what you need to have another grown-up help you with. For instance, only grown-ups can give the baby a bath. But you might be able to do some important jobs, like put on the baby's little socks!

Kids also can help in many other ways, like being a personal assistant to your mom or dad. What does a personal assistant do? You run all over the house getting the stuff your mom or dad needs for the baby. Diaper? You got it! Pacifier? You got it! Paper towel because the baby just spit up again? You got that, too!

Kids also can fold baby clothes, answer the phone, or get their dear, sweet mothers a drink from the kitchen. That is so helpful, especially if she feels busy and tired. And if the baby is cranky, you can work your magic by smiling at the baby and trying to cheer him or her up.

You could even read the baby a book. The baby won't know what you're talking about, but will like hearing the sound of your voice. Maybe the story will help the baby drift off to sleep. When that happens, everyone can relax a little. And it might be a good time to ask your mom or dad to spend a little time together — just the two of you.

When a new baby joins the family, you're in for some changes. But so many of them are good ones. Not only do you have this cute little bundle around the house, before you know it, that little bundle will sit up, crawl, walk, run, and even play hide-and-seek with you. In other words, this baby just might grow up to be a lifetime pal!

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.