While the welcoming of a new baby into the household can be an exciting time for a family, it can also be a time of challenge and uncertainty for the new baby’s siblings. Here are a few helpful hints to ease the transition and prepare your child for a new sibling:
Begin Well Before Your New Family Member Arrives.
Be open and honest with your children from the start. Taking into consideration the ages of your children, explain in age appropriate ways what they can expect in the months leading up to the arrival of your newest family member. For example, answer questions about the pregnancy and discuss any other changes that may affect them, such as sleeping arrangements.
Involve Children in Preparation Activities.
Make preparing for the baby a family affair by including your children in activities such as setting up the nursery, helping you pack for the hospital, and picking out the baby’s coming home clothes.
Make the Homecoming a Special Event for the Whole Family.
Have a special birthday celebration when you bring the new baby home and include treats your children enjoy. Have your older children pick out gifts for the baby ahead of time and have gifts to give them “from the baby.”
Identify Ways Your Child Can Help With the New Baby.
Give your children the opportunity to feel involved and appreciated by allowing them to assist you with the baby. Depending on their ages, they can help with activities such as diaper changes or bringing a diaper to you, pushing the stroller, or dressing and feeding the baby.
Schedule One-On-One Time.
Make it a point to schedule one-on-one time with each of your children and give them your undivided attention during this period. In addition, when you need uninterrupted time with your newest addition, allow your other children to play with a special toy or participate in a special activity. This will give you the time you need with your little one and help so that your other children do not feel left out.
Maintain a Sense of Normalcy.
Since keeping up normal routines is helpful for siblings, maintain as much consistency in your schedule as you are able. This includes spending quality family time together.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open.
Children may struggle with a multitude of feelings and emotions during this time of adjustment. Encourage your children to talk about their feelings with you or with another family member. In addition, be sensitive to the fact that children who may not be able to verbalize these emotions might act out in other ways. While it is important to acknowledge those feelings, help them to learn how to express them in appropriate ways.