Sibling Rivalry – Getting Your Child Ready for a New Baby Brother or Sister

Your family is growing! You may have a preschooler or two and don't know how to prepare them for the new baby. This is a big change in a child's life, so preparation is key for introducing the idea of a new sibling. Starting the process early will help make the transition easier. Talk to Your Preschooler Read books together on new babies, such “The New Baby” by Mercer Mayer or “What To Expect When the New Baby Comes Home” by Heidi Murkoff. Show your preschooler pictures of their baby days and read their baby book, sharing memories. Emphasize that your preschooler will soon have their own special memories of a baby to share with the family. Answer Questions and Offer Information Your preschooler may have a lot of questions about the new baby, such as how it got in your tummy, or what do babies eat. Consider their questions carefully and answer in a way you feel is appropriate. You can try a technique where you let your child lead the conversation, replying to questions with your sentences including language such as “How do you” or “Tell me what you” and letting your child fill in their own account. Let them know what will happen when the baby comes and how mommy will go to the hospital. Be sure to ease their fears, as most children associate hospitals with sickness. Don't be negative, instead focus on the positive aspects. Preschoolers and children crave information, so refusing questions isn't recommended. Don't Expect Total Acceptance You probably went through a range of emotions when you were pregnant, right? Don't expect your preschooler to be 100% happy. They may experience mood swings, be angry at the baby, or at you. This is completely normal. Focus on the positive as much as possible, and try to be patient with your little one as they work through their feelings of no longer being the “baby” of the house. After the Birth Let your preschooler visit with the new baby in the hospital. This is an emotional moment for your child, and they need time to process it. Your new baby will likely receive many gifts but don't let your preschooler feel left out. Try keeping treats handy to curb jealousy. Purchase inexpensive puzzles, coloring books, or stickers to give your child. Your preschooler can make “welcome home” pictures and cards for the baby as well. Your child may engage in regressive behavior and begin acting out. Your child is just anxious, and this is a common. Praise your preschooler and explain that as a “big kid,” they can do many things a baby can't. Then engage them in “helping” you with the new baby, with small but useful tasks such as choosing the baby's outfit for the day, or helping pack the diaper bag. Keep your child involved and feeling welcomed in the family. Be Patient As you expand your family, you may experience growing pains with your preschooler. You only need patience, love and understanding during this time. Your child will eventually embrace the idea of being a big brother or sister, and relish the special time they can have with the new baby.


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