A new baby requires a lot of preparation. While you might know what to expect and how to prepare, your preschooler has no idea what is coming. Help your child adjust to a new sibling with these strategies.
- Start by talking to your preschooler about the coming of his new sibling. Throughout the pregnancy, explain in age-appropriate terms how the baby is growing. Include your preschooler in prepping for the new baby by having him help set up the baby’s new room or shop for needed items. Many hospitals offer sibling classes designed for parents and children to practice and learn what it means to become an older sibling.
- If your child will need to change rooms or make other adjustments to allow space for the new baby, start that transition a few months before the baby is born. This will give your older child time to get used to some of the changes before the baby arrives.
- Many children are excited about a new sibling, because they see the baby as an instant playmate. Explain to your older child that the baby will eat, sleep, and cry most of the time. You may want to get a doll and have your preschooler practice holding it or taking care of it. This will help her understand how much help and care a newborn requires. Take some time to look at your older child’s baby pictures together and tell her about her birth story.
- Once the baby arrives, arrange a time for your preschooler to visit the new sibling in the hospital. When your preschooler arrives, have your hands free to give him an enthusiastic welcome and then introduce him to his new sibling. Consider bringing a gift from the new baby for your older child. It helps him feel important and gives him something to do, because he may lose interest in the new baby pretty quickly.
- When you are all home together again, look for ways to involve the older sibling by having her retrieve diapers or wipes. There may be some squabbles and bouts of jealousy as your preschooler adjusts to the new baby. Continue to show love and empathy towards your preschooler and encourage ways for the older and younger sibling to bond during tummy time or family walks.
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