Having a new baby is a wonderful time in your life but if this is baby number two than baby number one may not feel as wonderful about it. It takes some time, patience, and understanding for a child to feel comfortable with the idea of having a new sibling. There are things you can do to help your child transition into siblinghood.
Let Your Child know what to Expect
Let you child know that things are going to be different in the house when the new baby arrives. Explain what the new baby will be like. Some children have the expectation that they will immediately have a playmate and are disappointed when they find out that newborns aren't very exciting to them. Let your child know that the baby is going to sleep, eat and cry a lot in the beginning and that the baby is going to need a lot of attention.
Involve Your Child in the Pregnancy
Most young children have no concept of time, especially nine months. So you should wait a while before telling them about the upcoming baby. However, after some time has passed tell your child about the baby and involve them in the pregnancy as much as possible. Let your child feel the baby's movements in your stomach. Answer any questions they might have and show them pictures of what the baby might look like at various stages.
Let Your Child Help You Prepare
Let your child help you decorate the nursery and pick out items at the store for the baby. Allow them to play with some of the baby's toys. If you are having a baby shower, make sure you involve your child in the festivities. Let them unwrap the baby's gifts and even have a special present for the big brother or sister to be.
Talk to Your Child About When They Were Born
Get out the photo albums and show your older child pictures of them when they were born. Tell them the story of when they were born, who came to visit them and what gifts they received. This will help them relate to all of the attention the new baby is going to receive.
Let your child know that they are still going to be loved just the same. It is also important to acknowledge their feelings of jealously toward the new baby and not criticize or punish them for those feelings. However, let your child know that it is fine to be upset with the baby, but it is never okay to yell at or physically harm the baby. Instead encourage them to come talk to you when they are having these feelings.
Set Aside Time for Your Older Child
After the new baby arrives, be sure and set aside time to spend with your older child as well. Include them in the care of the baby as much as possible or as much as they like. Take advantage of times the baby is sleeping to play with the older child, read them a book, cuddle or just talk. Dads can also help by spending special time with the older child while mom is caring for the baby.
Praise Your Older Child Often
Praise your older child when they are being gentle with the baby or helping in some way. Let them explore the baby as much as possible. Point out how the baby smiles or coos when your older child plays with the baby. Remember in addition to mom and dad bonding with the baby, siblings need time to bond with the baby as well.
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