Having a new baby is always exciting, but your older child may not feel the same way. Here are some helpful suggestions to make your new addition slightly easier on your older child.
1. Start early. Read books about what it is like to have a new baby at home throughout your pregnancy. Let your child feel the baby kick and help pick out baby clothes for your hospital bag.
2. Make the introduction special. If possible, have your older child meet the new baby when there are no other visitors around. This special time will be kept private and allow your older child to feel like he/she is included.
3. See it through their eyes. Understand the panic that sets in with your older child when you bring home your new baby. Your child depends on you to meet all of his needs and your presence makes him feel safe.
4. Let your child cry. It is normal for your child to feel sad or left out, but it is important for you to be empathetic and comforting through this transition, and to help your child identify her feelings.
5. Ask for help. When you are home, you can ask your older child to help get you a diaper, help swaddle, or put on baby music. However, don’t push if your child isn’t interested.
6. Stick to the schedule. Keep up your child’s regular schedule/routine the best you can to give him the consistency he needs.
7. Keep them busy. When you sit down to feed the baby, come up with activities that will occupy your child including reading or special toys just for that time. This is a popular time for your older child to act out.
8. Spend time together. Identifying a special time to spend one-on-one with your older child is important. Let your child pick out the special activity to do with you or dad.
9. Teach empathy. Talk to your older child about what the baby might be feeling when she cries, smiles, or coos. This will help your child begin to see them as more of a person with feelings of their own.
10. Shower them with love. It is normal for children to act out, especially if they have trouble expressing their feelings. Offer lots of hugs, kisses, and plenty of praise/positive reinforcement for good behavior.
11. Don’t push them to grow up. When your child does act his age, praise him but don’t push it.