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Introducing a new addition to your family is a very exciting time. It can also be quite nerve wracking! Introducing a baby can come with so many worries. “I can’t possibly love another as much as I love my first!” Will I be able to manage both children? How will my child react to a new brother or sister?”
These are all very common worries and speaking from experience, we can assure you that you will be able to love equally! Your child will adjust to the changes and the bond the siblings will have is beyond worth it. However, there are a few things that you can do to ensure that the transition goes as smooth as possible.
Before your new baby arrives, there are some things that you can do to help your child feel included in the experience as well as help them begin to bond with their sibling in utero. An easy way to encourage this is to have your child sing the same song to your belly throughout your pregnancy. This will also come in handy once baby arrives.
Begin to help your child understand the changes that will be happening with your body as well as what they can expect when the baby arrives by reading books on the topic. There are a range of books available on the topic of a new sibling and the growth of a baby. Books can allow children to feel like they can relate to the character which gives them a sense of connection, especially if it is a character that they are interested in. Videos about a baby growing in the womb can also be very helpful for children who are old enough to understand.
Talk about what babies do and how your child can help once the baby arrives. “Little newborns really need their mom’s and need to be in their mom’s arms often. They can’t do anything by themselves but as they grow, we have to teach them how to do all sorts of things and you can be there to help me.”
Have your child sing to the baby if they are interested, rub your tummy etc. Don’t push it if they do not want to though. They will come around. Just keep attempting to include them and finding new ways that will interest them.
Although there are many things you can do to help prepare your child before the baby comes, there will still be a lot of work to do once the baby comes home. Here are some ways that you can help your child adjust.
Now that the work with bringing baby home is over, it is time to ensure that you are finding enough time to spend with your older child as well. Naturally, newborn babies need a lot of your time and at the beginning may require the bulk of your attention however, you can still set aside some time each day to spend one on one with your older child so that they are feeling the love and not feeling left out.
Making time for one on one doesn’t have to be hard. 10-15 minutes a couple of times a day to spend connecting with your child can do wonders for their adjustment.
Don’t be surprised if your child wants to act a little more like a baby for a few weeks. Sometimes playing with them and pretending that they are a baby can help them with some of their feelings. This is a great opportunity to spend some one on one time with your older child. Pick them up like you would a baby, cradle them in your arms, put them in a sling or carrier for a few minutes, cooing over them just as you would the baby and make it into a fun game full of opportunities to make an emotional connection.
When a sibling is born, it may not seem like a huge challenge to us but for the child, it completely uproots their life. Some children handle the changes a little more smoothly than others. Some children act out in many ways. Every child has their own way of dealing with changes in their lives and may show their feelings in various forms. It may be obvious and sometimes not obvious that the cause is from the adjustment to the new baby. It can even take up to a month or 2 after the baby is born to see some of the big emotions or behaviour from adapting to their little baby brother or sister.