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Helping Your Child Make Room for Baby

While children in elementary school aren’t generally as threatened by the announcement of a family addition, proper preparation can go a long way toward a smooth transition to one larger, happy family. First, remember that children’s reactions will vary, especially after the baby arrives home. It’s not uncommon for even older kids to revert to behaviors you long since thought vanished, such as clinginess and talking baby talk, while some children cope by withdrawing. Be empathetic and keep in mind that all of a sudden your older child feels his place in the family and in your heart has been cast into doubt.

Tips for Siblings: Before the Baby arrives

  • When to tell a child depends on maturity and their need to know. In general, it’s best to wait until the second trimester. This lessens the chance of complications that need explaining and with Mom’s growing belly, helps make the baby’s impending arrival more concrete.
  • Sit down with your spouse and discuss how the new baby will affect your child. Then sit down with the child and explain what the new baby will mean, both good and bad.
  • Explain the importance of being a big brother or sister. Let kids help prepare by fixing up the baby’s room, picking out clothes, and shopping for infant necessities. Asking their opinion along the way helps them feel the importance of their role.
  • Draw up a game plan. Talk to the child about what will happen when it’s time. Explain with whom they will be staying, that they will be able to talk on the phone with Mom and Dad, and that they will get to see their new brother or sister as soon as it’s allowed.
  • Tour the hospital to help alleviate their fears. See if the hospital or another community group offers sibling classes.
  • Have them pick out a present for the baby, and pick out a present for the baby to give to them.

Parenting Tips: At the Hospital

  • Try to make sure the child is the first relative to see the baby.
  • Have Dad or a nurse hold the baby at the first visit, so that Mom can lavish her attention on her older child.
  • Include the child in caring for the baby from the beginning. If the baby needs changing, ask them to get the diaper bag. Continue to involve them in the infant’s care.
  • Exchange gifts.

Once the baby is home, there will be new challenges, but getting off to a good start will make them easier to meet.