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New Siblings: First With Kids - Vermont Children's Hospital
Reduce the Rivalry When a New Sibling Arrives
Parents who are expecting their second child often expect me to tell them what to do to prepare a sibling for a new baby. Well, I labored a while on this one in order to deliver some information to you.
This is often a difficult time for a younger brother or sister. You might compare it to the feeling you would have if your partner came home and said, “I love you so much, I’ve decided to get another partner and love them just as much as I love you.” That’s a tough one for any of us to handle and for a toddler, it is difficult—resulting in their expressing feelings or fear of no longer being loved, often through tantrums or signs of regression.
What do you do to prevent this? Here are some ideas:
Prepare your child in advance by talking about the arrival of the new baby. There are wonderful books about becoming an older brother and sister that you can read with your child. Check in with your prenatal class provider to find out if they offer sibling preparedness programs.
If you are going to have to change his or her room or move your child from crib to bed, do it before the baby arrives rather than after. Refer to the baby as “your little brother or sister” rather than as “Mommy’s new baby.” Talk about the roles and responsibilities of being a big brother or sister.
When the baby arrives, have your child pick out a gift for your new baby. Also, have a gift waiting for your child from your baby. Have your child meet your baby at the hospital. Keep in mind the first visit may go better if baby is in the bassinette rather than in Mom’s arms. Have a picture of your older child next to you in the hospital so the child sees you have a picture of them when they visit the baby.
Once baby is home, make sure you still build what I call “special time” into your daily schedule where you do things with the older sibling that they enjoy and do not involve the baby. This allows your child to have some control over what can be a difficult adjustment situation.
Try to keep your older child’s routines in place as much as possible around the time of bringing your new baby into the home. Another idea is to hold a “big brother/big sister party” to celebrate your older sibling a month or two after your baby is born and to reinforce the responsibilities that being an older sibling carries.
Be sure to praise the big brother/big sister behaviors and ignore the baby-like behaviors so they disappear quickly.
Hopefully tips like this will rival for your attention when it comes to preparing your child for the birth of a sibling.