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Chil­dren react in many dif­fer­ent ways when they hear the news that a new baby broth­er or baby sis­ter is soon to come home from the hos­pi­tal with mom and dad.  How they react to this change in the fam­i­ly struc­ture and dynam­ic depends, to a large extent, on how well you pre­pare them for it. And their age plays a huge role in whether they ful­ly com­pre­hend the news, or whether they feel con­fused by it. As par­ents, it’s your respon­si­bil­i­ty to help them adapt and accept the new sib­ling, and when you tell them – and how – deter­mines, to a large extent, their reac­tion to this life-alter­ing announcement. It’s impor­tant that you don’t expect too much of your child at first. Depend­ing on how old they are, they may not yet ful­ly under­stand that the baby is in your body, even when you say so. And the ges­ta­tion and birth cycles may be a com­plete mys­tery to them.  In this arti­cle, we offer some sug­ges­tions for prepar­ing your child for a new sib­ling. Timed prop­er­ly and told sim­ply and clear­ly, the news can be, if not wel­comed entire­ly, cer­tain­ly accept­ed. After all, if they’ve been an only child until now, the idea of a sib­ling may not thrill them imme­di­ate­ly. But not to worry! With your help and guid­ance, they will adjust and come to cher­ish this new lit­tle per­son under their roof.

1- Wait Until You Are Used To The Idea Before Telling Them

Even if this preg­nan­cy was planned, it takes a lit­tle time for par­ents to adjust to the real­i­ty of hav­ing a sec­ond (or third) child. Give your­self time to adjust, and per­haps wait until you begin show­ing before telling your tod­dler that you have a baby in your belly. If they see your tum­my grow­ing, they may ask ques­tions, and that is, of course, just fine. See­ing the baby grow and change gives a child a ter­rif­ic visu­al aid, so to speak, that helps them equate what’s hap­pen­ing to mom with the grow­ing baby. 

2- Finish Potty Training Before Baby’s Arrival

If your child has begun pot­ty train­ing, it’s impor­tant to com­plete the work before the baby comes, so they are not deal­ing with too many big life changes all at once. If pot­ty train­ing hasn’t start­ed when the baby comes, post­pone it for a while. After all, your child will get there eventually! The same goes for switch­ing from a crib to a bed. Insist­ing your child move to a “grown-up bed” while deal­ing with a new sib­ling is ask­ing too much. Chil­dren can’t cope with sig­nif­i­cant stres­sors all at once. Even if they are look­ing for­ward to the baby’s arrival, it rep­re­sents a pro­found change and han­dling one big dif­fer­ence, not two or three, helps them cope more quick­ly and positively.

3- Remember That They Will Absorb Your Mood

How can I help my child accept a new baby? l How can I help my older child adjust to a new baby? l How do you prepare a sibling for a new baby? l How do I prepare my 2 year old for a new baby? If you’re hav­ing fatigue issues or oth­er aspects of your preg­nan­cy is dif­fi­cult, try to avoid voic­ing com­plaints in front of your child. They will assume it is the baby’s “fault” that you don’t have as much ener­gy as you used to or don’t feel well. Chil­dren, par­tic­u­lar­ly before they reach school age, are lit­tle sponges who see things in con­crete, black and white terms. They can­not com­pre­hend that fatigue is a nat­ur­al part of preg­nan­cy; they will only see that you’ve changed, and not (in their eyes) nec­es­sar­i­ly for the bet­ter. In their pres­ence, be as joy­ous as you pos­si­bly can be about the impend­ing birth. That helps your child find joy in the baby’s devel­op­ment, too.

4- Get Them Involved In Practical Matters

If it’s time to paint the nurs­ery, for exam­ple, ask your child what colours they like and which one they would pick for the baby. The same goes for stock­ing up on cloth­ing and oth­er essentials. If you’ve still got out­fits from their baby­hood, go through them with your child and talk about your won­der­ful mem­o­ries of that time. Say­ing things like, “won’t your lit­tle blue sweater look cute on the baby?” instills pride in your child and reminds them that they, too, were once a cher­ished tiny infant and are now the “old­er and wis­er” eldest child – a posi­tion of hon­our in the family. 

5- Remind Extended Family To Fuss Over Your Child, Not Just The Baby!

Whether the baby has already arrived or is soon to make their entrance, babies are the source of great joy in fam­i­lies. How­ev­er, it’s vital that your child, no mat­ter their age, doesn’t feel exclud­ed from the hap­py talk fam­i­ly mem­bers engage in. Remind them that they need to con­tin­ue spend­ing time with your child, not just the baby. If they’re com­ing by to see the baby for the first time, sug­gest they bring a new toy or game for your child and be sure they par­tic­i­pate in an activ­i­ty with them. After all, your child was once the star, so to speak, and being asked to play sec­ond fid­dle to a new baby will not fos­ter sib­ling bonds of love and trust. Make sure that baby and child are treat­ed as equal stars of the show. 

6- Give Your Child a Role In The Baby’s Care

How can I help my child accept a new baby? l How can I help my older child adjust to a new baby? l How do you prepare a sibling for a new baby? l How do I prepare my 2 year old for a new baby? Obvi­ous­ly, when a new baby arrives, mom and dad are con­sumed with child­care duties and may not be able to spend as much time with the elder sib­ling as they did before the birth, at least not for a few months. Get­ting the old­er sib­ling involved in the baby’s care makes them feel like par­tic­i­pants, not just observers, in this chang­ing fam­i­ly struc­ture. What you ask them to do depends on their age, nat­u­ral­ly, but if they can man­age it, sug­gest they hold and rock the baby for a few min­utes each day – under your super­vi­sion, of course. Even if all they can do is put away baby clothes into the nurs­ery dress­er, laud them for it, and thank them for all their help. What seems like a minor task to an adult can have out­size mean­ing to a child, and it’s vital that you look at that from their perspective.

7- Get Your Partner To Spend Extra Time With Your Child

If mom feels tired and she can’t play base­ball or go shop­ping for school clothes while in her third trimester, it’s the per­fect oppor­tu­ni­ty for dad to step up and fill the par­ent­ing role more actively. Fathers today already take more respon­si­bil­i­ty for day-to-day par­ent­ing respon­si­bil­i­ties than their dads did; how­ev­er, the bur­den still large­ly falls on moth­ers in many families. Dur­ing preg­nan­cy and when the baby first arrives, encour­age dad to spend more time with his old­er child, which ben­e­fits them both and takes the pres­sure off mom. For exam­ple: when you’re feed­ing your new­born baby, sug­gest that the father and tot go in the kitchen and get sup­per started.

8- Read Books That Together Explain Conception & Pregnancy

There are plen­ty of pic­ture books avail­able that detail, in terms your child will under­stand, how a baby devel­ops both dur­ing preg­nan­cy and in the first months of life. Two ter­rif­ic titles are: What’s In There?” by Rob­bie Har­ris and Nadine Bernard West­cott, and “What Makes Baby?” by Cory Sil­ver­berg and Fiona Smyth. (Both books are avail­able on Ama­zon.) A quick Inter­net search will uncov­er the best, age-appro­pri­ate book for you and your child to read together.                         How can I help my child accept a new baby? l How can I help my older child adjust to a new baby? l How do you prepare a sibling for a new baby? l How do I prepare my 2 year old for a new baby?                                   How can I help my child accept a new baby? l How can I help my older child adjust to a new baby? l How do you prepare a sibling for a new baby? l How do I prepare my 2 year old for a new baby?                Check It Out Now On Ama­zon!                                   Check It Out Now On Amazon!

9- Give Them a Little Extra Attention While You Still Can

Soon enough, you’ll be divid­ing your focus in half, so for now, give your child lots of extra love and atten­tion. Indulge them by lav­ish­ing affec­tion on them, and don’t be sur­prised if they regress a little. They may ask to sleep with you for a night or two because they may feel a lit­tle inse­cure. As long as it doesn’t per­sist, let­ting them act a lit­tle baby-ish for a bit isn’t going to cause any harm.

Last But Not Least

Wel­com­ing a new baby is an excit­ing step in the evo­lu­tion of your fam­i­ly. If han­dled prop­er­ly, with care and con­cern for their feel­ings, your old­er child will get excit­ed about this change in the fam­i­ly dynamic. They may not be an only child any­more, but they get all the fun and recog­ni­tion of being an old­er sib­ling — the chance to be a role mod­el and have a life­long bond with this per­son. Nev­er again will they have to face the future alone because this new baby may one day prove to be their very best friend as well as their sib­ling. And that is cause for cel­e­bra­tion, and joy, for every­one in the family!

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