Your second child is on his/her way. Of course, you are delighted at the prospect of a new addition to your family. You can’t wait to hold a baby in your arms again – they do grow up so fast. Of course, it could be that your first child is not too sure about it all…
The arrival of a baby is not only a major event for the parents, but also for any siblings. Especially if there isn’t that big an age difference between your first child and the baby. Up until now, your first child has had all the parental attention and now the house is filled with items in anticipation of the newborn. There are cuddly toys that they can’t play with, small clothes, and a lot of talk will probably center around the big day.
And then, of course, after the birth, there is this tiny human that can’t play yet, that needs a lot of feeding and attention, mom and dad will be tired a lot – things will change. This is where jealousy can set in, which can cause a lot of additional stress for all involved. Luckily, it needn’t be that way. There are a few things you can do to make the expansion of your family go that bit more smoothly…
No doubt you have already told your eldest about the upcoming arrival of the baby. This is a good stage to reassure your child that no matter what, you will love the both of them just as much. Depending on the age of your eldest, you can explain that you will probably be a bit tired because babies are very delicate and need a lot of looking after, stressing that does not mean that you will love your firstborn any less.
You could allow them to touch your belly and connect with the baby, and turn the whole experience into something very positive – when the baby is big and strong enough they can play together and it will be fun.
When he comes for his first visit to the hospital, be sure someone else is holding the newborn so you can scoop up your older child in your arms and be attentive as he takes his first confused and overwhelmed peek at his sibling.
Introducing your firstborn to a new sibling can be tricky business. It is common for children to feel displaced by this new arrival, and so it is up to you to make sure the transition from only child to older sibling goes smoothly.
Sometimes, news like this can be tough to a child. In his mind, the new sibling will be a trespasser to his territory. His cozy coop that has a bounty of toys, food, dad’s, mom’s, nanny’s and everyone’s attention will be diverted once the little one has arrived.
So When Should You Make this Announcement of a New Baby?
When should you tell a child that a new brother or sister is arriving? For a very young child, make sure you don’t tell him too soon. Keep in mind that a few months is a really long time when you’re only two years old. It is best to wait until toward the end of the pregnancy, when your child is able to see the changes that are happening. Older children can be told earlier, but this varies according to the maturity level of your child.
Involve Your Child
Get your toddler involved in the pregnancy. Have him accompany you to prenatal visits, and sonograms to make the idea of having a baby more concrete.
You should also involve your toddler in planning for your new baby. Let them pick out some items for the new baby and help to decorate the baby’s room or get the house ready for your new arrival.
Make sure you make your toddler feel special while preparing for the new baby. Allow them to get a new special item to celebrate the new baby if the baby has many new things in the house.
Set aside a special time for your toddler every day, just a few minutes just for the two of you when you do something fun together.. Continue with your special routine and make sure they know that the baby will not change your special time.
Have your child pick out a special gift for the new baby that can be from them to the baby so that they feel like they are an important part of welcoming their new sibling. Allow your toddler to interact with the baby so that they feel important as well, but do not push the interaction or force them to help.
With younger children, making them aware, through photographs and baby books that they were once that little, can be an enormous icebreaker. Make sure that each child has some one-on-one time with each adult as often as possible after baby arrives. Mom and Dad should each make sure that the older kids know they are as important as the new arrival. This may take some real effort, but prevention of sibling rivalry with a new baby is the best fix of them all
A new sibling is an exciting time for children. Toddlers can have trouble adjusting to a new baby but giving them one on one attention and involving them with their new sibling can help to ease the transition.
You Need to Talk! Talk! Talk! – Don’t miss an opportunity to remind your kids that there is little baby coming soon and that things will be different for a little while. It’s important to prepare them for what’s to come and make sure they know well in advance so that they can be comfortable with the idea by the time the new baby arrives.
Most kids have a lot of questions and are very curious about the process so use this time to your advantage and spend some one on one time with your kids and answer their questions and make sure they feel special and know that you love them.
If you decide to give birth in the hospital, it is advisable to take your first child to visit as soon as possible. It’s important for them to see that mom is alright and to meet his/her new brother or sister.
They will probably be amazed at how tiny the baby is and want to gently touch. If possible, allow them to do so – it’s a way of bonding and not being allowed to touch could be taken as a sign of distrust.
It’s also a good time to cuddle your eldest and involve them in it all, reassure them that their place in your heart has not been taken over by the new addition – you are a family.
- Get into the habit of referring to the baby as “our baby” rather than “my baby” or “the baby.” Toddlers are especially fond of the idea of ownership and will like taking care of “their baby.”
- The older your children are, the more they can do to help with the baby, but even very young kids can be encouraged or taught to do fun “big brother/sister” things with (or for) the baby and you.
- Let your older child get lots of positive attention for being helpful and competent and he or she will be less likely to try to get attention by being whiny, helpless, and demanding (behaviors which, after all, seem to be working great for the baby).
- Some parents find that bringing a small cot into the bedroom so that the family can all sleep together when the baby gets home helps foster a positive feeling about the whole event.
- When your child is feeling upset or left out, talk to them about their feelings (“you feel sad that we had to skip the park today” or “you feel mad that the baby spit up on your doll”) and ask what you can do to help.
- Often a cuddle and a chat are all it takes to help your older child feel better (temporarily) and less conflicted about the new baby.
As a parent, you will try to help your first child adjust to the role of a sibling. Your older child may experience many emotions, from excitement to jealousy to resentment. Younger toddlers may regress when the infant comes home.
They may forget their potty training, suck their thumb, or want to drink from a bottle. Older toddlers and children may misbehave, throw tantrums, or just generally try to test your patience. Time has shown that these problems go away and a little preparation will help the older child adjust to his new life. A great way of doing this is to play up the role of the older child.
This time is not a good time to introduce other major changes in the life of the older child. Try to include the child in the decision making. Letting him participate in the activities of the new baby will help with the adjustment period.
With older kids, it may not be to your liking, but remember, you and your spouse had the new baby, not your teenagers. Many parents assume that an older child means a built in babysitter, and I have never seen this happen without the older child growing to resent the younger sibling immensely.
I am not saying that an older teen can never baby-sit, but don’t make it be so time consuming that while you continue to have a social life after baby arrives, your teen ceases to have one.
There are so many positive aspects of having two children in a family. Once the chaos of having a newborn has settled down, you and your family will start to enjoy the benefits of having two children to love.
A sibling is a wonderful gift, even if your older child can’t appreciate it yet. Starting off on the right foot will help set the stage for a strong relationship through the years. Don’t despair if the sibling seems resentful or even disinterested – it’s hard to share time and attention. But blood is thicker than water and often the siblings who fought it out in the backyard turn to their siblings most often when older – a shared history is a strong bond.
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