Introducing a new baby to a family can take some adjustment time, not only for the parents but their older siblings as well. It is hard for a child to go from an only child that has all of the attention to having to share it with another child. It is important as a parent to understand that any range of emotions is perfectly normal and that every child experiences a new addition to the family differently. If you child does not warm up to a new baby right away, do not panic. As a parent, here are some things that can be done do help make the transition smoother.
Accept their feelings
It is important not to try to convince your child to try to love their younger sibling if they are resistant at first. Instead, acknowledge their feelings out loud and tell them that whatever they are feeling is completely normal. If you show frustration or irritation at their reaction, it will only make the situation worse. It is important to display patience and show you support your older child’s reactions. Showing your child you understand helps them realize they still are considered an important member of the family.
Set aside extra one-on-one time
For children who are having difficulties adjusting to a newborn sibling, one of the best things that you can do as a parent is to spend time alone with them. It will be hard to find a moment to spend with your child with a new baby in the house, but you can trade off with each parent spending time with the older child or have a friend or family member watch your baby. Something as simple as going to the playground for half an hour or going to the local cafe to have a snack will show your child that you still care about them deeply and that a new baby will not change the love you have for them.
Make them feel special about being an older sibling
It is important to make your older child feel special about their new role as an older sibling. Buy or make a t-shirt that states that they are a big brother or sister. Give them a special gift in honor of their new role and when you give it to them tell them how proud you are of them. Tell your child how great it is to be part of the “big brother/sister” club, where they have the special jobs of showing their little sibling how to do certain things later on like ride a bicycle or tie their shoe. This is also a great time for you to share your own positive experiences with a sibling. If you put a positive spin on the situation, your child will begin to see the benefits of their new role and are more likely to embrace it.
Set aside some time for your firstborn to bond with your newborn
Every day find a time where your older child is alert (not right before nap time or meal times) and supervise some time together with his younger sibling. It is important to do it in an area that is free of distractions, no TV, where you can slowly introduce your older child to his baby brother or sister. Give your older child a rattle to shake and entertain his new brother or sister with and comment on how happy this must make his baby brother/sister.
Let your toddler help out whenever they can
Include your firstborn in helping you out whenever they can with their newborn sibling. Give them a task like holding the bottle during feedings or entertaining them through diaper changes. It is important to make sure that you emphasis how important their role is as your little helper, because it will help boost their self-esteem and make them realize that they are appreciated.
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