And in the meantime, check out these tips from The University Of Michigan's Mott Hospital.
Welcoming a new baby to your family is an exciting time, and one of great change! This is especially true when there is an older sibling in the home. Having a new baby in the family will be a significant adjustment for your older child. However, it may eventually be one of the greatest gifts you can give them.
There are many things that can contribute to a difficult adjustment:
- Research indicates that a child’s personality has the most effect on how they react to a new baby.
- Your child’s developmental stage may affect how well they can share your attention. Often two-year-olds have lots of trouble getting used to a new baby, because their needs for time and closeness from their parents are still significant.
- Stress on the family can make your older child’s adjustment harder.
There are a number of ways to prepare a child (or children) ahead of time for their new baby sibling! Here are some things you can do to help prepare your older child:
Check with your hospital about sibling preparation classes and hospital tours.
Give your child a realistic idea of what to expect when the baby first arrives. You will be tired, and the baby will take lots of your time. The baby will not be able to do much at first, except eat, sleep, poop, pee and cry. The baby will not be a playmate at first.
- Visit friends with a new baby, if possible. Read books about pregnancy, birth, newborns, and baby siblings with your child (see below for some suggestions). Give them a chance to ask questions, voice concerns, and vent feelings inspired by the books.
- Look at pictures of your older child’s birth and babyhood. Tell them how excited you were when they were born, and how everyone wanted to see them and hold them. Tell them what they were like as a baby.
- Have your child practice holding a doll and supporting the head. Teach them how to touch and hold a baby very gently.
- Let your child participate in preparations in any way possible. Give them choices, such as choosing the baby’s coming home outfit from two acceptable options.
How can I help my child adjust to the new baby once it’s here?
Difficulties with adjusting may express themselves a number of ways. Sibling rivalry sometimes starts right after (or even before) the arrival of the second child. Occasionally, the older child can become aggressive, “act out” or even regress, acting more like a baby.
- Set aside special time for your older child. Each parent should spend some one-on-one with the older child every day. It’s amazing how much even just 10 minutes of uninterrupted one-on-one time(link is external) can mean to your child (and help their behavior!). Let your child choose the activity, and you follow their lead.
- Listen—really listen—to how your child feels about the baby and the changes in your family. If they express negative feelings, acknowledge them. Help your child put their feelings into words. Never deny or discount your child’s feelings.
- “Baby” your child, if that’s what they seem to crave. This may help stave off regression in areas that are less acceptable to you. There is a tendency to suddenly expect your child to become more independent when you have a new baby. If you expect less independence, you are more likely to get more!
- Make sure the older child has some private space and things of their own that they don’t have to share with the baby.
- Let them participate in the baby’s care—baths, dressing, pushing the stroller, etc.