Helping your Child Adjust to a New Sibling

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Sibling rivalry is a very natural instinct which older children experience with the arrival of a new baby brother or sister. They act out, become aggressive or regress which can put more strain on a family. Bringing a new baby home is tough enough, but knowing what to expect from your older children and helping them to work through the adjustment will make everyone’s transition easier.

Start early: Tell your child you are pregnant first and explain to them exactly what this means. Answer all their questions and try to involve them as much as possible in every phase.

Minimize changes: There’s only so much change a little person can handle, so if you have other major changes on the horizon like moving them out of their rooms, starting pre-school, potty training etc. try to get it out of the way long before the new baby comes.

Get involved: Try to include them in as many of the preparations as possible like getting the nursery ready or choosing names.

When baby arrives: Set aside time to spend alone with your older children. Really listen to their concerns and problems about the new baby and don’t discount them; try to hear them and help them to adjust.

Stress the benefits: Focus on all the good things they enjoy by being the older sibling and allow them to participate as much as they want to in the baby’s care.

Gifts: When friends and family members arrive with gifts for the new baby, distribute some gifts for older brothers and sisters too so that they don’t feel left out.

Bonding: Allow your child to hold and hug the new baby. You may want to teach younger children how to hold a baby by using a doll before the new addition arrives. You should also discuss what new babies do and that they won’t really be much fun for a while.

Keep your structures in place: With the upheaval of a new baby, your older children will act up and push the boundaries to get attention. While you must be empathetic and patient, be sure to keep the structures that they are accustomed to like bed times and meal times. Having some structure will help them to feel secure.

For younger children, there are a number of books that can help with preparation for the arrival of a new sibling. Some titles include:

When the Teddy Bears Came

Rosie’s Babies

Sophie and the New Baby

Topsy and Tim: The New Baby

Mummy, Mummy, What’s in Your Tummy?

Big Brother, Little Brother

The New Baby

Alfie & Annie Rose Storybook

Za Za’s Baby Brother

Spot’s Baby Sister

Pic by Richard Leeming
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