Depending on the age of the older sibling, usually they really like the idea of a younger brother or sister. However, this opinion and feeling might change once the baby arrives - this change is not uncommon. Do not worry if your child displays negative emotions towards the baby. Here are some tips to help you.
1) Prepare your child
Right through your pregnancy talk to your child about the arrival of a new baby. If possible take them to the ultrasound scans with you to build up the excitement. Involve them in setting up the nursery and organizing the new baby’s things. Read books to normalize siblings and how it is common to have a younger brother or sister.
2) One on one time
Set aside a time during the day where you give your child undivided attention. This might be hard with a new baby in the house, but even 10 minutes of ‘special time’ will make a huge difference. Create excitement through the day leading up to the special time. You can even give it a name. If you are busy with your newborn and your child is asking you to read to them, you can say, “That’s a great book to read during our special time this evening”
3) Talk it out
If your child expresses their need for your attention or if they say things like, “You love the baby more.” get down to their level and talk it out. Explain to them how the baby needs you in a different way because they cannot do much independently. “I do not love the baby more, it is just different!”
4) Involve them
Get your child to help during a diaper change, bath or simply read a book. Invite but don’t force. Make it a happy bonding family time. Saying things like “Daddy will get the diaper, you get the wipes and I will get the rash cream - we are a team!” make mundane routines exciting and also give your child a sense of responsibility and a feeling of importance.
5) Be prepared
Your child may start to act out or even regress. They might ask for a pacifier, diaper or milk bottle. This is normal behavior and needs to be treated sensitively. They are simply craving attention and need you to reassure them that you love them too!
6) Avoid major changes
With so much going on, try to keep your child’s routines consistent. Avoid starting a new school or potty training at this time. Any transitions, whether change in nap schedule or going to a different park may lead to larger than usual meltdowns.
7) A little extra
Whether it’s extra hugs or cuddles or a little extra leeway, your child deserves it. Make it a point to do the bedtime routine, bath or be the first person your child sees when they wake up. Use this time to hug, cuddle and tickle them. Laugh together, sing and just act silly! Be a little flexible with timings and rules, it’s okay in the grand scheme of things and might just make it less of a power struggle for yourself.
Here are some books to read to your child
- Peter’s chair
- What sisters/brothers do best
- There’s going to be a baby