The arrival of a new baby is an exciting time for your family. However, if you have older children, you may be wondering how they’ll adjust. Here are some ways you can help your child adjust to their new sibling.
Read books about new babies
There are many books available that can help your child work through their feelings and understand the change in their life. Some books you can read together include The New Baby, The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby, Good Night New Baby, and Babies Don’t Eat Pizza.
Acknowledge your child’s feelings
When the baby comes, your older child may feel many conflicting emotions. They may act differently than usual, or in a way you didn’t expect. It’s a difficult time for your child, and it’s important to acknowledge your older child’s feelings as valid. Remind them that you still love them and that they are still an important member of the family. According to family therapist Meri Wallace, LCSW, letting your child talk about their feelings can empower them and reduce the risk of protest through negative behavior.
Spend one-on-one time together
Spending even a few minutes with your older child every day can make a big difference. You can read a book together, go to the playground, or even talk about their day at preschool or school. To help make this easier, you can wear your baby in a sling, or ask another family member or relative to spend time with the newborn while you’re with your older child.
Ask your older child for help
Getting your older child involved in your daily life with your newborn can help them to feel less confused and unsettled. You can ask your child to bring you a fresh diaper or sing softly to the newborn at bedtime. This can also be an ideal way to create a bond between the siblings.
Help your child understand babies
Your older child may be disappointed to realize that a newborn is not an immediate playmate. Help your child to understand that their new sibling will be fragile and sleep and cry often. Encourage gentle touches and focus on ways your child can feel involved that don’t involve the sort of playing older children can do together.
In addition to these tips, the Mayo Clinic has some recommendations for introducing your older child to their new sibling. These include letting another family member hold the newborn for a while so your older child can spend some time with you, and giving your child a special gift “from the baby.”