This week, the Triple P Team talks about introducing a new baby into the family dynamic.
A new baby means some major changes for the entire family. Children’s reactions can vary from being helpful with diapers or feedings to jealousy or baby-like behavior. Preparing your child for the new baby will help get their bond off to a good start. Here are some steps you can take to help ease the big life change.
Before Baby Arrives
Babble about babies
- Three to four months before baby is due, talk to your toddler about the arrival of their new brother or sister. For school-aged children, tell them at the start of the pregnancy.
- After the big talk, discuss all things newborn: that they sleep a lot, cry, cannot play or crawl, and need lots of snuggles.
- Use this time to share stories about when your other child was born or when they were babies.
- It can also be helpful to spend time around a friend or family member’s baby so your child can see what babies do and how they look and sound.
Ask your child for help
- Another way to sooth new-baby worries is to get your child involved.
- Let them feel the baby kick, or make a present for the baby together.
- Include your child in coming up with a list of baby names as a family.
Stick to the routine
- Long before baby arrives, make any upcoming changes to your child’s routine, including moving from a crib to a bed, or starting new child care—they will need time to adjust.
- Rather than pointing out that the changes are because of the baby, point to their own growth: “You’re a big girl now, so it’s time for you to sleep in a big girl’s bed.”
Now That Baby Is Here
When you are ready, have your child meet their new sibling.
- Talk ahead of time and make a plan with them about what to expect.
- If your new baby is at a hospital, prepare your older child for the quiet hospital environment and what they might experience.
- Some kids enjoy making cards and small gifts to bring along.
- It’s not unusual for a child to be quiet or distant when first visiting a hospital—they will interact when they are ready.
Once home, give baby over to your spouse or family member so you can spend some extra time with your elder child, and provide extra snuggles if they are open to it.
Although a new baby can throw the family routine out of whack, try to keep your older child’s routine as close to normal as possible. This includes sticking to regular mealtimes, bedtimes, and other activities.
Toddlers are natural-born helpers and involving them in baby care is a great way to spend extra time together and encourage the sibling bond. Here are some “special helper” ideas:
- Getting diapers or blankets
- Checking on the baby
- Singing songs to the baby
- Picking out a new outfit for the baby
Read the full article at lanekids.org.
This article is brought to you by Parenting Now! Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com). Parenting Now! is passionate about happy, healthy families. For more information about Parenting Now!, contact us here.
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