With the excitement of the new baby also comes some apprehension for the older sibling(s). Will they feel left out? Will they be jealous? Will they resent the attention? Will they feel we don’t love them anymore? These worries plus more are not only common, but they are also totally normal. This can be a very confusing and emotionally exhausting time for the siblings-to-be, but it can also be a wonderful time if the right steps are taken. Here are some ways you can prepare your child for the new baby.
Get the older child/children excited about the new baby. Tell them all of the fun things that are about to happen, how wonderful having a new brother/sister is going to be, how much they can teach the little baby, etc. Make everything seem fun and exciting. Have the older child/children help pick out clothes, nursery themes, toys, etc. so that they feel included and excited.
A good deal of the fear of a new baby comes from not understanding everything. Explain everything and anything you can about the pregnancy, labor, and arrival of the new baby. Some older children feel that they will be replaced. Explain that the family is growing, not exchanging. Some older children are worried about mum during labor and delivery. Explain that this is all normal and fine. Explaining everything, in as much detail as necessary, eases the unknown and eases the fear.
Exclude the older sibling(s) for a lot of one-on-one time with you as much as possible both before and after the baby comes. Make time for each child individually. If time is short, hand the baby off for a bit to a family member or friend who’s willing to help out, and give some special attention to the older children. The baby will not remember; the older children will. Make sure to make the older children feel very special and loved during this transition.
Even after you do all of these things, don’t be surprised to hear, “You don’t love me anymore.” It will happen — but it’s okay. Just be sure to lavish the older child/children with as much love and attention as possible and eventually they will adjust accordingly. This time of transition is sometimes a bit rocky, but it all evens out eventually if the right precautions are taken.
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