How to Encourage Your Older Child to Welcome The New Baby

by Ann Douglas

Wondering what you can do to get your child’s relationship with his or her new sister or brother off the best possible start? Here are a few tips from Ann Douglas, author of Baby Science.

 

  • Tap into your child’s natural curiosity about babies. What child wouldn’t be awestruck to learn that a newborn baby wets its diaper 20 to 30 times a day–or that it will triple its weight during the first year of life.
  • Involve your older child in your pregnancy. Take him along to prenatal checkups so that he will have the opportunity to listen to the baby’s heartbeat and to ask the doctor or midwife about the new baby.
  • Resist the temptation to oversell the new sibling. Rather than focusing on how fun the baby will be in a year or two’s time, let your child know what the baby will be like when he or she first arrives.
  • Sign your child up for sibling preparation classes. They are being offered by an increasing number of hospitals, birthing centers, and adoption agencies.
  • Buy your child a small gift from the new baby–perhaps a new book that the two of you can enjoy together while the baby is eating or sleeping.
  • Take your child shopping with you when you’re picking out items for the new baby. Encourage him to make as many purchasing decisions as possible–what color of sleepers to buy, what brand of diapers to pick out, and so on.
  • Ask a friend or relative to do something special with your older child shortly after the baby’s arrival. Some time along with Grandma or Grandpa may be all that it takes to remind your child that he’s still as special as always.
  • Encourage your child to participate in the baby’s care. Even a very young child can be asked to pick out baby’s outfit for the day or to find a toy to entertain her. You might even encourage your child to make a toy for the baby, like an eye-catching black and white mobile.
  • When you pull out your camera be sure take at least one shot of your older child. Otherwise, he’ll be quite disappointed when the film comes back from the photo lab and there isn’t a single picture of him.

Don’t despair if sibling love doesn’t blossom overnight. It can take time for your older child to develop feelings for the new baby, but that special sibling bond will begin to emerge over time.

 


 

Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books on pregnancy and parenting, including The Mother of All Pregnancy Books and The Mother of All Baby Books. She is also the co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby (2nd edition). Ann teaches online pregnancy and baby courses through WebMD.com. She can be contacted via her Web site atHaving-a-baby.com.


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