Welcoming a new sibling into your family can be a challenging time for older children. Even for deeply-loved children, bringing home a new baby requires an adjustment period and it can be a difficult time for the whole family.
When the new baby arrives home, your usually independent older child might start seeking more attention. They might become clingy and prone to tantrums. Don’t worry! Toddlers between 18 months and three years old are especially sensitive and can regress when a new sibling is welcomed home. This is normal and quite common when a new baby is brought home.
Here are some important tips that can help your child welcome a new sibling.
Before the Baby Arrives:
Even before you come home with your new baby, you can already start preparing your older children for their new sibling.
If possible, visit a friend or family member who has a baby so your child can experience and better understand what proper behavior is around a baby.
Buy your child a doll they can call their own baby. Practice taking care of the doll and let them know that the new baby will require a lot of care as well.
Prepare your child for upcoming changes. For example, “When the baby comes, she won’t know how to talk yet, so she’ll cry when she wants to tell us something.” If you want more details, there are numerous books available that have more helpful tips to prepare your child for their new sibling.
Involve your child as you prepare for the new baby to arrive. Let them help choose out baby clothes, linens, and other newborn essentials.
Give them an idea of what will happen on the day you give birth to their new sibling. Tell them who they’ll stay with while you’re at the hospital and that they’ll get to meet their new sibling soon after.
When the Baby Arrives:
Once you bring home the new baby, expect your family dynamic to change and that your older children will go through an inevitable adjustment period. Here are some tips that can make this transition easier on everyone:
The number one rule in welcoming a new sibling home is to stay calm. Although it’s easier said than done, staying calm should be the number one rule in all things parenting. If your child or toddler misbehaves, remember that they are still learning how to have another child at home vying for your attention. Stay calm and listen to your child’s needs instead of punishing them.
One way to help your older child welcome a baby into the family is to compromise with them. Instead of your child competing for attention with your newborn, suggest that they wait a little until you can give them your full attention. For example, “When the baby naps, let’s bake cookies, okay? We can have our alone time then.”
Talk to Your Child
Communication is key. When a new baby comes home, your child may experience all sorts of feelings, from excitement to resentment. Welcome all these feelings, even if they sometimes are hard to listen to. Understand that your child is experiencing new emotions, and don’t take them personally. A new baby is a big adjustment for everyone and talking about the changes openly will help your child process their own feelings better.
Welcoming a new baby into your family is a wonderful time, but it won’t always be easy. Fortunately, the tips above can help your child welcome a new sibling and hopefully, set the groundwork for lifelong happy and healthy sibling relationships.
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