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also check into sibling preparation classes
at a local hospital.
Explain to your older child that the new
baby will probably eat, sleep and cry most
of the time. The baby won’t be a playmate
right away. To minimize the stress your
child might experience once the new
baby arrives, think ahead. If your child
will need to change rooms or move out of
the crib to make space for the new baby,
do so before the baby is born. This will
give your older child a chance to get used
to the new setup before dealing with the
other changes associated with the baby’s
arrival. If possible, complete your older
child’s toilet training before the baby is
born. Otherwise, wait until a few months
after you bring your baby home to start
the process. Arrange for your older child’s
care during your time in the hospital or
birth center, and let your child know what
to expect.
How should I introduce
my older child to his or
her new sibling?
When the new baby arrives, have your
partner or a loved one bring your child
to the hospital or birth center for a brief
visit. During the visit, allow another loved
one to hold the baby for a while so that
you can give your older child plenty of
cuddles. Consider giving your older child
a gift that’s from the baby, such as a T-shirt
that says big brother or big sister. When
you’re home, you might take your older
child to a special place — such as a favorite
restaurant — to celebrate the new baby’s
arrival.
What can I do to help
my older child adjust to
having a new sibling?
Your older child’s age and development
will affect how he or she reacts to having
a new sibling. While older children are
typically eager to meet a new sibling,
younger children might be confused or
upset. Consider ways to help your child
adjust. For example:
• Children younger than age 2.
Young children likely won’t understand
yet what it means to have a new sibling.
Talk to your child about the new
addition to your family. Look at picture
books about babies and families.
• Children ages 2 to 4.
Children
at this age might feel uncomfortable
sharing your attention with a newborn.
Explain to your older child that the baby
will need lots of attention. Encourage
your older child’s involvement by taking
him or her shopping for baby supplies
or looking through his or her own baby
items for things the new baby might
use. Read to your older child about
babies, brothers and sisters. Give your
older child a doll so he or she can be a
caregiver, too. Look at your older child’s
baby pictures together and tell the story
of his or her birth.
• School-age children.
Older
children might feel jealous of how much
attention a new baby gets. Talk to your
older child about your newborn’s needs.
Point out the advantages of being older,
such as being able to go to bed later or
play with certain toys. You might display
your older child’s artwork in the baby’s
room or ask your older child to help take
care of the baby. Allow him or her to
hold the baby under your supervision.
Regardless of your older child’s age, make
sure that he or she gets individual attention
from you and other loved ones when the
new baby arrives. If you’re taking pictures
or videos, include your older child.
Take some pictures or videos of him or
her alone, as well as with the new baby.
Consider having a few small gifts on hand
to give to your older child in case friends
visit with gifts for the new baby.