Bringing a new baby into the family is an exciting time, but there can be stress related to how your older child will adjust to becoming a big sibling. Although some challenges can be expected, there are ways to help your child with the transition.
Before the baby arrives, introduce your child to the idea of becoming a big sibling. Try to get him excited about the new baby, but also be honest about how the new baby may take up a lot of time and attention.
- Read books together
- Get a baby doll or stuffed animal so your child can practice taking care of his own baby
- Look at old baby pictures and videos of your child, and tell him stories of when he was a baby
- Get him involved in the preparation by letting him help set up the nursery, pick out clothes, toys or decorations
- Try to avoid major changes right around the new baby’s arrival such as toilet training or transitioning out of a crib
Once the baby arrives, it is normal for your child to act out, experience jealousy and have regressive behaviors. Previously toilet trained children may have accidents, your child may engage in baby talk, want to drink from a bottle or use a pacifier.
- Try to ignore these behaviors. Instead, catch your child being good and praise her for acting like a big kid. Remind her of the benefits of being a big kid, such as all the fun toys she can play with and delicious foods she gets to eat
- Keep routines as consistent as possible. Don’t hesitate to ask other caregivers for help
- Let your child feel like she has a role in caring for the baby. Give your child small tasks such as getting clean diapers, burp clothes, breast feeding pillows, etc., and praise her for being a great big sibling helper
- Set aside special one-on-on time with your older child, even if it is just for a short period of time each day
- Check in with your child’s feelings. Feelings of sadness, anger or jealousy in addition to the excitement and joy are normal. Remind your child that you love her, and allow some time for her to adjust to her new role