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How to Help Small Children Cope When a Newborn Sibling Arrives

>> Jul 4, 2012

The trick to keeping a young sibling happy when a new baby arrives is to make the sibling feel special and want to help. A smooth transition can be made if the experience is a positive one.

Prepare them

- Take the time to explain to your youngster that a new baby will be joining your family in an upcoming season. “This summer you’ll have a baby brother!” Keep the exact date vague. Children do not understand why babies do not always come on a specific date.

- Encourage realistic expectations. Avoid making false promises. An angry child will use a false promise as “proof” to validate their feelings. It can also cause an issue with trust. The new baby will not be an adequate playmate for the child for many months, and pretending it will be will only cause more issues later.

- Have the child help with preparations. Encourage them to feel good about doing something for the new baby. Even if the child is only carrying a couple of diapers into the nursery, praise them for a job well done. Tell them what a good helper they are. Discuss how they can continue to help once the baby arrives.

- Talk to your child about having a new sibling. Find out what, if any, fears they have. How do they feel? It is important to emphasize your love for the child will not change once the baby arrives. It is just as important to acknowledge their feelings.

- Stay consistent. Keep with your child’s current schedule. Maintain bedtime rituals.

Sibling birthday – celebrate!

-Arrange for your child to sleep over at a favorite relative or friend’s house once labor has begun. The birthing process can be frightening to children. Better to have the child with someone who will make them feel special.

-Prepare a small gift bag or gift for the older sibling to receive when he or she meets the baby for the first time. Think of a birthday party goodie bag. It will further support positive association.

When the baby arrives home
- Find ways the older child can help. Being useful will make them feel good.

- Stick to the same routine with the older child. Meals, playtime, and bedtime are all important rituals to children. This will also help the baby adjust into the routine of the household.

- Dedicate 1 on 1 time to your older child. Babies need a lot of attention, and the older child may feel slighted. By taking as little as 15 minutes a day to spend alone with your older child, you will reinforce the bond that you share.

It can be tricky to introduce a new baby into an existing family. Keep things in a positive light, acknowledge the older child’s feelings, and staying consistent will help the entire family adjust.

Author Biography: This article was written by Briana Kelly, who regularly writes articles and guest blogs on the subject of childcare and parenting. She writes on behalf of Giraffe Childcare, a Montessori School based in Dublin, Ireland.

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