Creative Child

Preparing Children for a New Sibling

by Rebecca Eanes

Once Baby is Home

1. Involve your older child in the care of the baby as much as possible. Rather than making him wait on the sidelines while you care for baby, which is likely to foster feelings of resentment, enlist his help.

2. Be sure to tell your older child how much she is still valued. Be specific in your praise and encouragement. “You mean the world to me. I'm so glad the baby has you for a big sister! She'll learn all about being kind and helpful from her wonderful big sister.”

3. Let your older child overhear you telling the baby what a special big brother he has and how you hope he grows up to be a lot like big brother. Anytime our children hear us bragging on them to others, it boosts self-esteem and creates feelings of belonging and acceptance. Also tell people in front of him what a wonderful big brother he's being. Save the negative comments, like “he's been so clingy since the baby came home” for when he's not in earshot.

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4. Realize regression is normal and won't last forever. Some children may start to act more like a baby again. It's best to avoid criticizing this behavior and just provide love and acceptance. Once her emotions level out, she'll act like herself again.

5. Don't overreact to acting out. Provide empathy and loving kindness. Set boundaries where necessary, and make them clear, fair, and consistent. For example, you obviously can't let the older child act out his frustrations on the baby by hitting or being aggressive, but if you make it all about keeping the baby safe and not about what your older child is feeling, negative feelings are likely to increase. Having a new baby in the house and sharing the parents' attention can cause some big, overwhelming feelings. Your older child will need to feel valued, loved, and secure in order to reconcile all the big feelings and find peace.

6. Prepare activities your older child can do alone while you nurse or otherwise tend to the baby in ways he can't help you. Quiet books, busy bags, felt boards, and sensory play are good at keeping young children entertained, and there are plenty of ideas for them all over the internet.

7. Stay connected to your older child by ensuring some one-on-one time with her as well.

Try not to be discouraged if your older child doesn't accept the new addition right away. We all have high hopes and expectations, but some children need more time to adapt than others. Keep the faith in your older child, stay positive, and stay connected. There's always enough love to go around.

 Related Post: Solutions for Sibling Rivalry

Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 


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