How to help your child adjust to the new baby
A mom shares her tips on how to help your child adjust to the new baby in your family.
“I’m excited to give birth to my second baby but I’m worried about my eldest daughter,” my best friend Joy tells me during her fifth month of pregnancy. She is referring to the adjustment of her 3-year-old daughter when the new baby comes.
Joy asked for advice or suggestions on what she can do to help her daughter accept that she will no longer be the only child in the family. So I imparted to her some of the things I've learned from helping each of my first two children adjust to the arrival of a new baby.
Before the baby comes
It is good to start preparing your child for the coming of her sibling even while you are still pregnant.
First of all, it is necessary that you express your love and affection to your child.
Always say “I love you.” Give her hugs and kisses. Let her feel secure with the love you have for her.
And as your tummy begins to bulge, tell her that there is a baby growing inside it.
It’s better if you can find storybooks that talk about babies and what goes on in mommy's tummy. Read these books to her before she goes to sleep.
Also, talk to the baby and let her do the same. Ask her to say “I love you” to the baby. Allow her to also 'hug' the baby inside your tummy.
When you do this every day, she will grow accustomed to the baby as a part of the family even when it has not arrived. You can also bring her along during your pre-natal visits to the doctor if you want.
Basically, the key is to involve her in everything.
All of these are things I did when I was pregnant with my second child; my eldest daughter was 2 years old at the time. I also applied the same steps when the third baby came.
I'd like to think that it's because of these small steps that each of my children were able to adjust quickly to the new baby when it came out. My husband and I also continued to shower each of our children with attention and love as we prepared for the coming of the baby.
When the new baby arrives
Once the baby is born, let her touch and hold the baby. Of course, it goes without saying that you need to watch her carefully, as she might hold the baby too tightly without being aware of it.
Also, don't forget to talk to her about her new role as the elder sister. Ask her to do small tasks as you care for the baby.
For example, when bathing the baby, ask her to rub soap on the arms or legs of her sibling. When you dress up the baby, let her give you the baby’s clothes or things.
You can also read again and again to her storybooks that talk about her role as the older sibling. She can even pretend to read it to her sister or brother later on.
Also, point out to her how small her sibling is by showing her the parts of her sibling’s body. This is to emphasize that her sibling is fragile and that she has to take care of her/him.
Again, make sure that you never fail to express your love and affection for your older child. Make her see that she is still loved even when there is already a new baby in the family — spend time with her: tickle her, cuddle her and attend to her needs.
If there are times when your older child ignores her sibling, don’t force her to do otherwise. Instead, let her do what she wants to do as she copes with the changes that are taking place.
Remember, too, that there are children who can easily adjust to a new baby but there are some who cannot. A few find it difficult to accept the fact that they will no longer be the baby of the family.
Whatever the case, you can help your child adjust to the new baby by being loving and caring. When you see signs of jealousy in your older child, assure her that you love her as much as the new addition to the family.
Last, but not the least, do not harshly scold or reprimand your older child if she shows signs of aggression towards her younger sibling. Instead, gently point out that her actions will harm her brother/sister.
If you really want to help your child adjust to the new baby, don’t rush things — be patient with her. In time, she will get used to becoming the good older sister you hope for her to be.