The arrival of a new baby can bring many changes to a family. Parents spend a lot of energy on preparations, and after the baby arrives, much of the family’s attention is focused on caring for the newborn. All these changes can be hard for older siblings to handle. Here are some strategies which will certainly help prepare your first child for the arrival of the new born in your family.
Encourage your child’s connection to the baby by:
- Referring to “Our baby” or “Your sister” or even “Your baby.” The more ownership they feel — and of course, the less they feel displaced — the less jealousy they will exhibit.
- Taking him with you to the doctor to hear the baby’s heartbeat.
- Letting your child choose furniture, toys and clothes for the impending baby.
- Allowing him to help you select baby’s name.
Make sure your child knows he still has an important role in the family.
Regardless of your older child’s age, make sure that he or she gets individual attention when the new baby arrives. If you’re taking pictures or videos, include your older child. Take pictures or videos of him or her alone, too. Reassure him with your words and actions that you adore him, and be sure to spend “special” time just with him each day. Consider giving your older child a gift that is from the baby, such as a T-shirt that says big brother or big sister. When you are home, take your older child to a special place — such as a favorite play area — to celebrate the new baby’s arrival.
Make the baby’s homecoming a special event for the whole family.
When you come home from the hospital, let the father carry the baby so that your arms are open for your older child and ready to embrace him. Have your older child and baby exchange gifts. Your older child may want to pick out a special gift for the baby. Request your friends and relatives to greet your older child before seeing the new baby.
Allow your older child to verbalize any negative feelings towards the baby or you.
Speak to your child and show him affection whenever you see signs of jealously or regressive behavior. Some children may exhibit regressive behavior in eating, toileting, crying, and sleeping. Praise positive behavior; ignore negative behavior and give lots of love and hugs.