by Patricia Hughes
Welcoming a new baby into the family can be stressful for young children. This is a major life change for your child, who has been the center of your attention since his own birth. Your child needs time to prepare for this change. You can help your child adjust to the role of big brother or sister by reading and talking about newborn babies often.
Allow plenty of time to prepare your child for the arrival of a sibling. You won’t want to tell your child the minute you learn you are expecting, but give your child several months to get used to the idea of a new [tag-tec]baby[/tag-tec]. The age of your child is another factor in deciding when to share the news. When they learn about the baby early, the months can drag on while they wait for the baby.
Spend time reading books about babies. Get a baby doll and let your child practice diapering and dressing the baby. Use the doll to demonstrate the right way to hold a baby. Talk about the attention babies need. This helps your child learn that babies are dependent on their parents for everything. This may help with [tag-ice]jealousy[/tag-ice] issues after the baby arrives.
Let your child help get ready for the new baby. Browse through catalogs and go shopping for the baby. Let your older child make a big decision, such as picking out baby’s first outfit or helping to select a theme for the nursery. This will help your child feel excited about the baby and will help her feel that she has an important role in the preparations. This boosts her self esteem and helps her feel confident.
Involve your older child in your [tag-cat]pregnancy[/tag-cat]. When your child attends prenatal visits with you, the pregnancy won’t be such a mystery. Children love hearing their siblings’ heartbeats at prenatal visits. My girls are always excited when it’s time for the ultrasound. They get to “see” the baby and find out if they are having a brother or a sister.
Some hospitals have sibling classes for older children. These classes can be fun and help your child prepare for the role of big brother or big sister. In most classes, the kids watch a movie about having a new baby in the house. The instructor will use a doll to show the children how a new baby should be held.
An added benefit of many classes is a tour of the maternity ward. Your child will get to see a room like the one where the baby will be born and a room like the one you will stay in while you are in the hospital. The kids may get to peek in the newborn nursery and may even see a new baby. When the time comes for you to go to the hospital, your child will be familiar with the concept. When he arrives to visit you and the baby, he may feel more comfortable.
A new baby gets a lot of attention. Guests arrive bearing gifts for the newest [tag-self]family[/tag-self] member. This can make some children feel left out. Consider buying a few small gifts and wrapping them. You can give a small gift to your child when you feel she needs some attention or when presents arrive for the baby. Craft items and small activity books will keep your child amused and give you a few minutes to rest with the baby. A story book is a good choice. You can snuggle up on the sofa with the baby and your child and read while you feed the baby.
Patricia Hughes is a freelance writer and mother of four. Patricia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University. She has written extensively on pregnancy, childbirth, parenting and breastfeeding. In addition, she has written about home décor and travel.
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