The happiness and love that your first baby brought into your life is beyond measure, and now you’re thrilled to learn you are expecting another child. Preparing for a second child can be as rewarding and special as the first time. Helping your older child understand what to expect can lessen anxiety for both of you, and being aware of the changes to come is the best way to prepare for this joyous event.
Problems overcome by the first child when their sibling arrives:
Younger toddlers are unable to verbalize their feelings, and their behaviours may regress after the new child is born. Older toddlers and kids might express their feelings by testing your patience, misbehaving, throwing tantrums, or refusing to eat. These problems are usually short-lived, and a little preparation can help an older child adjust to the idea of welcoming a new sibling.
Even if he was excited about having a new sibling before the birth, your preschooler may change his mind once the new baby comes home. How your child behaves will depend partially on his temperament. Children who are more flexible and self-contained may adjust more easily. Those who are highly sensitive, need more time with transitions, and like routines may take longer to adjust.
Your firstborn may react to the addition of a new family member by testing you or regressing, (sitting in the baby’s seat, wanting a diaper, or asking to drink from a bottle). He’s likely to want your attention most when you’re nursing or changing a diaper.
Most likely your child will also be eager to show his new sibling affection and connect with her.
What can I do to help my child accept a new sibling?
Before the Arrival of their sibling:
- If you are in a nuclear family ensure that the father of the child gets to spend a lot of time with the child during the second pregnancy. This time can be spent in play, going for long walks or drives, on outings and visits – the goal is to just have fun together and get to know each other.
- If a grandparent or relative / caretaker is to take care of the child during the mothers delivery, make sure that the child has at least 30-45 days to get used to the person. Sudden changes increase the chances of separation anxiety and stress.
- If you plan to make changes in the house for the new arrival, make them well ahead of time. Do not allow the child to associate every change with the arrival of the new child. If too many changes happen too soon, the older child will find it very difficult and will end up feeling very insecure, unloved and unwanted.
After the Arrival of their sibling:
- Allow the older child to feel that he / she is the centre of all attention when guests come home. However, do not force them to do things like recite rhymes, or perform in front of the guests if they really don’t want to.
- Give him special jobs.Allow the older child to help out with taking care of the younger child if they want to and if they enjoy it. Make it a fun activity. Appreciate them and help them feel good about all that they do too.
- Ask his advice.Ask your preschooler: “Do you think the baby would like to wear the blue shirt or yellow shirt?” or “Do you want to help me tell a story?” Preschoolers often have a natural flair for entertainment — singing, dancing, or just making faces — and a baby is an appreciative audience.
- Watch the baby together.Invite your child to observe the baby with you.
Read stories about his new role. Reading stories about the trials and joys of having a new sibling can help your preschooler adjust to his new situation
- Acknowledge his feelings.It’s normal for your preschooler to feel a range of feelings about this new change in his family. After all, he suddenly has to share you with someone who requires an extraordinary amount of your time and attention.
- Spend a little time alone with him.The mother must be able to set aside some time with the older child as often as possible to do “fun things” and not only school work and other mundane household chores.