Preparing A Younger Child For A New Sibling

Bringing home a new baby is a big adjustment for everyone, so be sure to prepare your older children well in advance to avoid more stress.

Bringing a new baby home to the family can be a stressful situation for everyone. Many preparations must be made from sleeping logistics to stockpiling the diapers and sleepers. Getting your older child ready for the new arrival can be one of the most important preparations you can make.

Children who are above the age of eight will most likely be just as excited as you are about the new baby and most can't wait to pitch in and change a diaper or feed a bottle. Younger children might feel as though they are about to be displaced as the baby in the family and wonder if you will still love them as much when the baby comes home. Some younger children might feel angry and resentful of the new baby before it even enters the world. It's best to head off these feelings of jealousy and displacement before the baby comes home to avoid making a stressful time of adjustment even more stressful for everyone.

Make sure you tell your child about your pregnancy before you tell anyone else. It can make small children feel special to know a "˜secret' and to know that they were the first ones to find out. If your older child needs to be weaned, potty trained, or moved to a new bed it is best to do this as soon as possible. Your child may revert back to babyish ways if you make a transition too close to the birth of your baby and your child may feel that he must make these changes because of the baby and not just because he is getting older.

Making younger children a big part of preparations can help them feel important. Emphasize to your younger child how much you value his input about the new baby and let him help pick out some toys for the baby. Point out that the baby won't be able to play with the fun toys that your older child has. Ask your child his ideas for names for the baby. Get your child to think of things that he will teach the baby how to do once he is born. The more emphasis you can put on your younger child being the "˜bigger one' who can do so much more than a new baby the more important your child will feel.

Bring your child to a few of your prenatal visits and show him ultrasound pictures and pictures of babies at various stages in the womb. A new baby can seem much less threatening if your child feels as though he is a part of the process and not just someone looking on. Feelings of displacement can start even before birth if you keep the experiences you are having during pregnancy away from your child. Don't be afraid to let your child know when the baby is making you uncomfortable or feeling sick. Honesty about your feelings and what is going on inside your body will go a long way towards making your child feel included.

If possible, arrange for your child to visit with a new baby. Having a baby to enjoy that is not a threat to him can help him to see how wonderful it can be to have a little baby around. Your child can get used to the way that a baby is cared for and how gentle he must be with a baby. Your local hospital may even have nursery tours and classes for siblings.

Reinforce the idea that your child's life is not going to change drastically once the baby is born. Small children might think you won't have time to play with them anymore because all of your time will be spent with baby care. If you don't already have special routine times with your small child begin them now. Have a special story and snack time that you will continue after the baby is born or something special that is just for the two of you. Make plans to do things with your child after the baby is born so that he will have something to look forward to.

Above all, reinforce the fact that the baby will be part of the family and that there is plenty of love and attention for every family member.

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