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Your older child might try to get your
attention by breaking rules — even if
it means he or she will be punished. To
stop this behavior, praise your older child
when he or she is behaving well. If you
suspect your child is behaving badly to
get your attention, consider ignoring the
behavior. This might encourage your child
to look for a more positive way to get
your attention. Keep in mind that siblings
sometimes regress after the arrival of a new
baby — such as by having toilet training
accidents or drinking from a bottle — to
get attention. There’s no need to punish
this type of behavior. Instead, give your
older child plenty of love and assurance.
How can I encourage my
older child to be gentle
with the new baby?
Sometimes older children - stressed by
the changes happening around them -
take out their frustration on a new baby.
If your older child tries to take away the
baby’s bottle or harm the baby in any way,
it’s time for a talk. Sit your child down
and explain that he or she isn’t allowed
to hurt the baby. Give your older child
extra attention and include him or her
in activities that involve the baby, such
as singing, bathing or changing diapers.
Praise your older child when he or she acts
lovingly toward the new baby.
Even if your children seem to get along,
supervision is essential. Don’t leave your
newborn alone with a sibling or other
loved one younger than age 12.
How will my older child
react to seeing me
breast-feed the new
If you plan to breast-feed your newborn,
you might wonder how your older child
will react to nursing sessions — or how
to keep your older child busy while you
nurse. Try not to worry. Your older child
will likely express curiosity and might
hover upon first seeing you breast-feed.
Explain what you’re doing and answer
any questions your child might have. If
you breast-fed your older child, explain
that you did the same thing for him or
her when he or she was a baby. To keep
your child entertained while you nurse,
set out toys, a workbook or other supplies
beforehand. You might also play music or
audio versions of children’s books. If your
older child asks if he or she can nurse, the
decision is up to you. Most older children
find the experience somewhat strange and
quickly lose interest.
How do I explain a
medical concern to my
older child?
If your new baby has health issues, explain
to your older child that his or her baby
sister or brother is sick, and you’re worried.
If your baby needs to stay in the hospital
after he or she is born, ask about the
sibling visitation policy. You might also
take pictures of the baby and show them
to your older child. Keep in mind that if
you don’t talk to your older child about the
baby’s illness or condition, he or she will
likely still sense that something is wrong.
Rather than keeping your older child in the
dark, give him or her some information
about the situation and do your best to
show that you’re there for him or her.
A new sibling will undoubtedly change
your older child’s life. As your older child
adjusts, reassure him or her of your love.
Explain to your older child that he or she
has an important role to play now, too -
that of big brother or big sister.