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How to Help an Older Sibling Accept a New Baby
There can be a lot to think about when a new baby is on the way, and sometimes that can mean that an older son or daughter might start to feel a little left out. If they have been used to being on their own and having your undivided attention, then having a new member of the family can be a shock to the system and make them feel nervous about change. You want them both to bond and interact well with each other, while still ensuring that the older sibling feels as loved as always. Here are a few ideas to help the older sibling accept the new arrival.
Before the Baby Arrives
It is important that your child is involved in the pregnancy process; it will help them to understand what’s happening and it will give you both time together. You will need to explain what will happen when the baby arrives so that they are prepared and let them ask questions about what’s happening. They may feel a little worried or anxious about you and the baby, so it is important to reassure them and keep any anxieties at bay. One way that can help, is to let them come along to some of your appointments. Let them see the ultrasound, and although you may not take their name suggests seriously, ask them for their opinion on baby names. Also ask them if they can help you decorate the baby’s room and perhaps design something for the wall. The important thing to remember is to keep things light hearted so that they don’t become stressed. Try to Keep the Same Routine
Keeping a routine can be a big help, not only for you but also for your child. Before, during and after the birth, keep things as normal as possible including any after school clubs, weekend activities and doing homework. If you try to maintain things as they have always been, then your child won’t see the new baby as changing everything they used to do with you. Before the birth, you should point out that you or the baby might need to stay in the hospital for a day or two, that will prepare them if something unforeseen happens and you need to stay in a little longer.
Involve the Sibling with the Baby’s Routine
When the baby arrives, they will need to develop a routine as well as settle into their new home. It can be the most challenging time for an older sibling as your attention will be on the new baby for extended periods. To try and alleviate the situation, you can ask your child to help you set up the daily routine for you. They can help prepare changing station if you have one, and they can even help you change them if they are old enough. Encourage them to hold the baby for a little while and read the baby stories. They can even make some stories up to give them more involvement. At the end of the day, they can help you bathe the baby and put them to bed; then you can still have your nighttime routine with them as well.
Try to Manage Negative Comments
There may be times when your child might say something negative about the new baby or do other things to gain your attention. It is important that you try not to give them attention at that time, or it will reinforce the fact that negative behavior will get them more time with you. You should also reward good behavior so that they understand a happy family is the better option.
Spend Time with Them on Your Own
One of the things that your older child might miss is spending quality time with you. That will be at a premium when the new baby arrives, so try to make some time for just the two of you. It might be that you take a trip to the park as you used to before, or perhaps you take a trip into town to play some Escape Games. Try not to talk too much about the baby while you are together, or they might feel that he or she is intruding on your time. However, it is important to find out how they feel about the new baby. At a separate time, sit with them and talk about how they feel. Make sure they know that they can tell you what’s wrong and you can talk through it together.
Take Pride in Their Achievements
It can be easy to get so caught up in what the new baby needs, that you miss out on important achievements by your older child. It can be upsetting if you have always been to every concert or award before, but now you are not. Try to make sure that you attend the same things as before, even if that means taking the baby along too. In fact, they might like the idea that their little sibling is there to watch them. It will give them a sense of pride in being an older brother or sister.
Do things as a Family
As well as spending quality time with your child, you should also arrange fun things that you can all do as a family. It could be something as simple as going for a picnic in the park or going out for a meal. The more things that you all do together, the more your child will realize how happy the family is together. You can make them part of the decision process if you wish, talking to them and asking them what they think you should all do as a family. You can also include extended family as well; grandparents should also be made aware that you are trying to encourage a sense of friendship and love between the two siblings. Bringing a new baby into the household can be an unsettling period for your older child, but if you can give them the same love and encouragement as you did before, then they will quickly come to accept their new sibling.