Helping Toddlers Cope With a New Baby
Before the Baby Comes Home
Before the baby is born, it is important to prepare the older child. This can help a great deal to minimize the feelings of jealousy. Some things you can do are:
Refer to the new baby as our baby.
After the Baby Arrives
Call your older child daily from the hospital.
Try to have your older child visit you and the baby in the hospital.
When you return home from the hospital, spend your first moments with the older child.
Have someone else carry the new baby in the house.
Give the older sibling a gift from "the new baby."
Ask visitors to give extra notice to the older child.
Have your child unwrap the baby's gifts.
From Helping Older Siblings Adjust to Their Baby Sib.
You may expect two possible behaviors from toddlers when there’s a new baby in the house, regression and hostility.
How can parents cope with these responses?
Regressing means going back to infantile behavior, such as wanting to nurse, refusing to use the toilet, or eating erratically.
It is often just as well to give the toddler the opportunity to regress a little if she wants to. The period usually will be brief, a few days or a week.
Ignore as much as possible any negative behavior. It’s the toddler’s way of expressing resentment. At the same time, watch carefully to make sure the toddler doesn’t try to harm the baby.
Depending on her age, development, and willingness, even a young child can help with the baby.
The pride of accomplishment and goodwill toward the newcomer is well worth the extra time it may take for you to complete a task with a young child's help.
Young children can fold or fetch diapers, help dress the baby, help burp the baby, assist with the baby's bath, help push the carriage or rock the cradle, or smile, talk, sing, or dance for the baby.
Remember that your "helper" needs to be supervised at all times to ensure the safety of the new baby. On the other hand, if your child wants to ignore the baby, don't force her to get involved. The older child will come around in time.1
While your baby is asleep, spend some time with your older child. At night, assign an adult to each child, so that at least once a day your older child gets one parent's undivided attention.
You should also remind relatives and friends not to neglect your older child. Remind them that she'd like to discuss topics other than what it's like to have a baby sister, for example.1
Making mistakes and falling short of your hopes and expectations is part of life. With your support and lack of interference, your child can learn to take this part of life in stride, rather than be destroyed by it.
Article Courtesy Growing Child and
1 Excerpts from "Preparing Your Child for A New Sibling." See full article below.
Preparing Your Child for A New Sibling — For parents, the arrival of a baby is a happy event. By steadily preparing your child for your newborn's arrival, you can help alleviate her fears, and let her share in your excitement.
Understanding Children — Sibling Rivalry and Getting Along — Sibling Fights — Two articles about sibling fighting, put-downs, and arguing among children causes frustration and concern in most parents. Although sibling rivalry can have several reasons, brothers and sisters often fight to get the attention of parents. Article provides tips and suggestions on how to handle this situation.
Siblings Are Forever — While friendships come and go, sibling relationships are permanent. Because sibling relationships can be so beneficial in later life, it is important to nourish interactions with siblings in adulthood and among our children.
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