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How to prepare older child for new baby
How to Prepare Your Older Children for a New Baby
Ages & Stages
Ages & Stages
A new baby brings joys and challenges to a family. You're excited, but you may also be nervous about how your older children will react to the newborn.
All sorts of questions come up: How should we tell our older children that they are going to have a baby brother or sister? Will they be jealous of the new baby? How can we help them get along?
Children of different ages will react differently to a new baby.
Knowing what to expect from each age group will make it easier to handle the changes in your family.
Toddlers - Ages 1 To 2 Years
Children of this age will not understand much about what it means to have a new brother or sister. However, let your child hear you talk about the "new baby" and feel your excitement. She may not understand why you are excited, but your attitude will rub off on her and she will feel excited too.
Keep in mind, you may not be able to satisfy the needs of both children all the time—especially not by yourself. If you feel overwhelmed, look to your partner, other relatives, and friends for support and an extra set of arms.
Look at picture books about a new baby. At the very least, your child will become familiar with words like "sister," "brother," and "new baby."
When the new baby arrives, try to do something special for your older child. Reassure her that she is still loved. Some ideas include giving her a special gift, letting her spend some time alone with dad, grandma, or another special adult, or taking her someplace special.
Preschoolers - Ages 2 To 4 Years
At this age, your child is still very attached to you and does not yet understand how to share you with others. Your child also may be very sensitive to change and may feel threatened by the idea of a new family member. Here are some suggestions that may help ease your preschooler into being a big brother or big sister.
Wait a while before telling your preschooler about the baby. Explain it to your child when you start buying nursery furniture or baby clothes or if he starts asking about mom's growing "stomach." Picture books for preschoolers can be very helpful. So can sibling classes (ask your hospital if it offers them). Try to tell your child before he hears about the new baby from someone else.
Be honest. Explain that the baby will be cute and cuddly but will also cry and take a lot of your time and attention. Also, make sure that your older child knows that it may be a while before he can play with the new baby. Reassure your child that you will love him just as much after the baby is born as you do now.
Involve your preschooler in planning for the baby. This will make him less jealous. Let him shop with you for baby items. Show him his own baby pictures. If you are going to use some of his old baby things, let him play with them a bit before you get them ready for the new baby. Buy your child (boy or girl) a doll so he can take care of "his" baby.
Time major changes in your child's routine. If you can, finish toilet training or switching from a crib to a bed before the baby arrives. If that is not possible, put them off until after the baby is settled in at home. Otherwise, your child may feel overwhelmed by trying to learn new things on top of all the changes caused by the new baby.
Expect your child to regress a little. For example, your toilet-trained child might suddenly start having "accidents," or he might want to take a bottle. This is normal and is your older child's way of making sure he still has your love and attention. Instead of telling him to act his age, let him have the attention he needs. Praise him when he acts more grown-up.
Prepare your child for when you are in the hospital. He may be confused when you leave for the hospital. Explain that you will be back with the new baby in a few days.
Set aside special time for your older child. Read, play games, listen to music, or simply talk together. Show him that you love him and want to do things with him. Also, make him feel a part of things by having him cuddle next to you when you feed the baby.
Ask family and friends to spend a little time with your older child when they come to see the new baby. This will help him feel special and not left out of all the excitement. They might also give him a small gift when they bring gifts for the baby.
Have your older child spend time with dad. A new baby presents a great opportunity for fathers to spend time alone with older children.
School-Aged Children - Ages 5 and above
Children older than 5 years are usually not as threatened by a new baby as younger children are. However, they may resent the attention the new baby gets. To prepare your school-aged child for a new baby,
Tell your child what is happening in language she can understand. Explain what having a new baby means and what changes may affect her—both the good and the not so good.
Have your older child help get things ready for the new baby by fixing up the baby's room, picking out clothes, or buying diapers.
If possible, have your older child come to the hospital soon after the baby is born so she feels part of the growing family.
When you bring the new baby home, make your older child feel that she has a role to play in caring for the baby. Tell her she can hold the baby, although she must ask you first. Praise her when she is gentle and loving toward the baby.
Do not overlook your older child's needs and activities. Let her know how much you love her. Make an effort to spend some time alone with her each day; use that as a chance to remind her how special she is.
Managing Older Siblings While Breastfeeding
Growing Independence: Tips for Parents of Young Children
Tips for Grandparents of a Newborn
Depression During & After Pregnancy: You Are Not Alone
Dads Can Get Depression During and After Pregnancy, Too
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
Preparing Your Child for a New Sibling
Bringing a new baby into the family can be both an exciting and a challenging time for a big brother or sister. How you choose to tell children about new siblings and prepare them for changes in family life will vary depending on the age difference, but there are some rules of thumb experts recommend to create the best possible environment for your expanding family.
You may be thrilled to have a second child on the way but the upsides of a bawling new baby who is going to grow up and try to steal your older child’s toys may not be so clear to them. Babies aren’t easy. And jealous older siblings who act out will only make the transition harder. Preparing older children in advance and helping them feel included in the process can go a long way to a smooth and happy family life.
When and how to tell your child
The more time your child has to get used to the idea of a new baby, the better. When mom is pregnant, experts agree it’s best to tell your child as soon as the baby begins to show. However, if a pregnant woman is experiencing morning sickness or has a very young child who can’t be jumping on her the way he is used to, parents might want to consider telling their older child even sooner. “It’s always best to be honest to avoid making kids anxious about what’s happening,” says Mandi Silverman, PsyD, a clinical psychologist. “So don’t wait too long to tell your child.”
If the family is adopting or using surrogacy, the coming baby may not be visibly obvious, Dr. Silverman adds, “but definitely still start the conversation early.”
Dr. Silverman stresses that parents need to give children as much time as possible to ask all the questions they need to but also to get in some extra special alone time with each parent. “The key thing here is that parents need to indicate that this is a positive thing for a family,” she says. “It’s a change, and change — whether it’s good or bad — is something that takes time to get used to. ”
The language you use to explain these changes to your child should be developmentally and age appropriate. Emphasize change for the good and all the great things a new baby will bring to the family. “There’s one more person to love,” suggests Dr. Silverman. “There’s somebody new to spend time with. Watching the baby do new things, and teaching him things, will be fun. Holidays will be even more special when there’s a new baby.”
Don’t oversell the new baby
While you want to emphasize all the great things about having a new little brother or sister, older children also need to know things that will be difficult. Be as specific as is appropriate for your child. You may tell them that babies are a lot of work. “They can’t do things on their own. You know, they can’t feed themselves. They need somebody to change their diapers. They may be up at night. They cry. It can be loud. It can be annoying,” says Dr. Silverman. But reassure your older child that you will do whatever you can to keep the baby quiet and happy and on a regular sleep schedule as soon as possible. And also that you are going to make time to spend with them.
Set aside special time to spend together
One thing you can do with a child of any age to help them feel reassured and secure is to establish a ritual (even if it’s just a few minutes of playtime or reading) that each parent can do with them before the arrival of the new baby and that continues after the new sibling comes.
“Something like a constant,” says Kristin Carothers, PhD, a clinical psychologist, “where the kid knows, yes, this is something that I had before my sibling and I get to have it after my sibling. Mom and dad have protected this time for me.
Involve older children in the process
Getting your older children involved in the preparations for the new baby will help them to feel more a part of the change and growth in the family. Some families involve older children in decorating the new baby’s nursery or choosing toys for their new sibling. “Some families invite their other children into the process of picking a name,” Dr. Silverman adds. She knows one family in which the big brother wanted his baby sister to be named after a character in his favorite Disney movie. Fortunately, his parents liked the name, and they went with it.
Regression and other common behaviors
Even the best-prepared kids may suddenly start acting younger, and seeking the kind of attention their new sibling gets. For example, your toilet-trained child might start having accidents or want to go back to wearing diapers or they might want to take a bottle. “It is totally normal for children to engage in regressive behaviors when a new baby arrives,” Dr. Carothers says. “It’s children’s way of making sure their parents are aware that they still need them and it helps them to get the attention they crave.
Older, school-aged children have a strong sense of fairness and equality so they might not understand why one child is being treated differently than another, even though a baby has different needs, and this can cause them to act out.
To help them feel valued, it can be good to give older children developmentally appropriate jobs that make them feel special. It’s also good to praise the positive mature behaviors the child exhibits.
Prepare for your hospital stay
They may be confused when you leave for the hospital. Explain that you will be back with the new baby in a few days.
Your child may feel worried by your absence or simply left out, so if a family member or friend is coming to help take care of your child, hopefully that person can try to make the time extra special for them. If there are any important routines that your child counts on, it’s a good idea to share that information ahead of time.
If the child is old enough, allow them to come visit the new baby in the hospital.
After the baby arrives
Think about how to involve your child in the daily routines involving the new baby. You know your kid best. “One child might really like to help clean up, and another child really likes to cuddle,” says Dr. Silverman. “So, let’s say during feeding time maybe the other child is sitting next to mommy and snuggling with the baby and mommy or daddy. Another child may be the one that brings over the burp cloth or maybe they stand on a step stool and help with diaper changes or they can hold the towel at bath time.”
Preparing kids of different ages
Ages 1- 2 years
Children this young may not “get” all that much about what it is going to mean to them to have a new brother or sister. But you should still talk about the new baby with excitement.
Look at picture books about a new baby. At the very least, your child will become familiar with words like “sister,” “brother” and “new baby.”
Do something special for your older child when the new baby arrives. This could mean taking them someplace special, spending time with grandparents or a small gift.
If your family is comfortable using the baby’s name before it’s born, that’s an excellent way for little kids to get used the idea.
Ages 2-4 years
At this age, kids tend to be pretty territorial when it comes to their parents and may not love the idea of sharing your attention. They may also be more sensitive to change in the family than you might imagine a child this young would be. “I think for a 2- to 4-year-old, the easiest way to talk about it would be to say that the family is going to grow,” says Dr. Carothers. “Explain there is going to be a new person who’s going to come into the family and that’s going to be a brother or a sister”.
Then, says Dr. Carothers, “I would link it to maybe a TV show, cartoon, activity or book that they enjoy where there is a new sibling or there is a younger sibling. Board books and picture books about new babies are a great thing to add to the usual bedtime ritual. This helps build positive associations to phrases like ‘new baby’ and ‘little brother’ or ‘little sister.’ ”
The other technique Dr. Carothers suggests is buying the older child a special doll —their “baby” — that they can practice holding and caring for.
Ages 4-6 years
Dr. Carothers advises explaining to kids this age that there are fun things about babies — you get to play with them — but the baby also needs mom’s or dad’s help. “And so, it may seem that the baby is getting to be with mom and dad more, but mom and dad love everybody the same.” This is where popular culture can come in handy as a teaching tool. “Maybe the 4- to 6-year-olds would watch something like an Arthur. Before his sister DW came around it was just Arthur and his mom and dad, and afterwards there was DW and then things changed.”
Check with local hospitals to see if they offer sibling classes for families expecting new babies. These can be especially helpful.
Tell your child what is happening in language they can understand. Explain what having a new baby means and what changes may affect them — both the good and the not so good.
Have your older child help get things ready for the new baby. Maybe they can help pick out clothes or books, or fix up the baby’s room. Whatever they do, let them know that you really appreciate their help and that they are being a great brother or sister already.
Another strategy Dr. Silverman suggests is having the older child spend time with another family with a baby and maybe even, with adult supervision, learn how to hold and gently touch the baby.
Practice with a doll can be good for older kids as well. “I actually just recently did this in session with one of my kiddos who’s expecting a baby sister this summer,” Dr. Silverman says. “I gave him some brief pointers, like how to hold a baby. I even had him hold the baby doll on the couch with the pillow under his arm, and then afterward he was really excited to tell his mom all about the things he learned about being a big brother.”
How to prepare a child for the birth of a second: 9 rules
How to raise a child?
How to prepare a child for the birth of a second: 9 rules
Expecting a second child is a great joy for parents, but a lot of stress for the first baby. What problems may arise with an older child, how to overcome them and prepare the first-born for the appearance of a brother or sister, I am the Parent will tell.
According to the data of the Public Opinion Foundation, 85% of Russians surveyed consider brothers and sisters the closest people, and 86% answered that they had excellent relationships in childhood. And only 13% admit that they always got along badly with younger family members. However, conflicts between older and younger children are inevitable to some extent. Therefore, it is worth preparing the first-born for the appearance of a brother or sister in advance, psychologists say.
What should parents prepare for?
The main problem that parents face is the jealousy of the older child. His feelings are quite understandable - before the birth of the youngest, all the attention of adults belonged to him, and now the baby is very worried about the loss. After all, at first the whole life of the family revolves around a newborn who needs maximum care.
Children under three years of age, as a rule, openly express their displeasure: they can offend the baby, call names, be capricious, and disobey. And an older child may begin to behave like a small one: stop asking to go to the toilet, not eat and not dress on their own. Schoolchildren usually hide their emotions: their experiences are manifested in the form of a decrease in school performance, causeless whims and tantrums, conflicts with classmates and teachers.
How to avoid the jealousy of an older child? Our experts have prepared nine recommendations for those who are planning to become parents for the second time.
9 Rules for Preparing Your First Child for the Birth of a Brother or Sister
1. Inform your child about the arrival of the baby in advance
Parents, not other adults, should be told about the new addition to the family. It is better to inform him about the joyful event at about the third month of pregnancy, so that he has time to get used to the changes in his life.
2. Discuss with the first child what will happen after the birth of a brother or sister.
The expected birth of a baby should be discussed with the child. Parents should tell the elder that the baby will require a lot of attention at first. Explain to your son or daughter that mom and dad won't love them any less.
3. Do not scold for showing aggression towards the younger child
The older child must be listened to, even if he says “wrong”, according to adults things. For example, that she does not want a brother or sister at all, or that she will not love him. Do not scold the first-born for this, it is better to give him the opportunity to speak. The very fact that parents understand the feelings of the child will give him the strength to cope with his experiences.
4. Do not associate changes in the life of an older child with the arrival of a younger one
All significant changes in a child's life - moving to another room, attending a kindergarten - should not be associated with the birth of a younger one. It is better to do this before childbirth, or postpone it to a later period.
5. Involve the child in decisions concerning the baby
The first-born will feel his involvement in the upcoming event if the parents discuss all pressing issues with him. He can help choose a crib, toys and clothes for the baby, take part in choosing a name, pick up a gift for a brother or sister.
6. Tell the older child about his infancy
Parents can tell the older child about how he was as a child, how he behaved in his mother's stomach, show pictures of his infancy period and explain that his brother or sister will be born the same small and helpless, just like him a few years ago.
7. Tell the child how he can take care of the baby
The child should be warned that the newborn will not be able to play with him immediately in order to avoid disappointment. It is good to focus on pleasant moments, to make it clear to the first-born that he can take care of the youngest, to teach him everything that he himself can do.
8. Show your child a positive example of families with many children
It is good if the parents have friends who have several children in the family. You can take the elder to visit them. Tell him about the benefits of a big family and show him how much fun it is for kids to play with each other. Tell him that he will play like this with his brother or sister as soon as the baby is a little older.
9. Expand the child's social circle with peers
Parents should try to ensure that the child has a social circle outside the family. If he communicates more with other children, his life will not be connected only with his parents, and he will painlessly endure the appearance of the baby.
Is the eldest child ready for the arrival of a baby in the family? LEARN!
How to prepare an older child for the birth of a second younger child
The appearance of each next child is a time of redistribution of roles in the family. Older children did not choose change, but it is their lives that change forever. Especially if they turn from the only ones into seniors.
It is impossible to prepare a child for the birth of siblings 100%. However, things can get messed up! Remember the following 4 tips if you want to complicate family relationships and bring the elder to white heat.
But for now, let's stop and share gift ideas for children, because the birth of a younger brother or sister is a holiday for the older one as well.
1. Wait and demand help from the older one.
If the elder himself wants to help with the baby, this is always welcome (and develops emotional intelligence), but should not be made a duty.
And take offense at the elder and deprive him of some joys of life because “you don’t help us at all, don’t you see how hard it is for us?” definitely not great.
2. Remind about seniority compulsively and often
Despite the status of the eldest, your firstborn remains primarily a child with his own needs for play and love. And when a flurry of parental expectations and outlandish phrases “you are now the eldest” fall upon him, meaning “forget all the joys of life, the carefree time is over”, the child will at least be perplexed. And as a maximum, he will rebel against his parents and the one who caused these changes.
3. Be ashamed of manifestations of aggression and jealousy
The topic of anger is generally difficult to perceive in our society. But you need to understand that the child has the right to these feelings. His lifestyle has changed, and he still does not know how to manage his emotions (even if he is already 15).
4. Mislead the child by telling how much fun it will be when a brother/sister appears in the house.
We all understand how it will be:
he will need his mother very much;
he will cry and sleep a lot, and then gradually and slowly learn to walk, talk;
Before the first real games together, a lot of time will pass, filled with frustration and fatigue of all family members.
A few more gift ideas from CUVYRKOM
But what is the right way to prepare an older child for the birth of a little brother or sister? Instead of heating up the situation, you can follow the path of light and goodness. We do not guarantee that the following steps will 100% provide you with love and peace in the house, but they will definitely help the elder to more easily accept the changes in the family:
1. As soon as possible inform the elder about the addition to the family
Respect the elder's reaction to the news, whatever it may be. You can expect him to jump for joy, but in reality you will encounter misunderstanding, questions, fears, and even obvious negativity.
2. Talk to your elder often about his infancy
Look at pictures together and invite family members to share stories from the elder's childhood. Explain to him with an example what the new baby will be like. “At first he will just lie down, like you are in this photo” will give him more understanding of what lies ahead than any abstract concepts.
3. Let the firstborn know that he can teach the youngest everything he knows.
Children love it when others recognize their skills and achievements. “You can teach him how to make a wheel as cool as you can yourself” is a great way to get the older one interested in the development of the younger one. But if he does not want to, it is important to allow him not to deal with the baby at all. There is nothing wrong with such reluctance.
Show your child a positive example of families with many children.
Meet families and visit those who already have siblings. Ask them to tell you why having multiple kids is great, and let him ask any questions he may have without interfering. Honest and open dialogue always wins in the long run.
4. Enter the quality time already now
After the birth of a second child in families, there is often a distortion of parental attention, where the older one does not receive it from mom, and the younger one from dad (for example). You can introduce the tradition of "a day with mom" and "a day with dad" on a regular basis for each of the children, and let everyone get used to it.
Games for fun and quality leisure with children from CUVYRKOM
5. What to do immediately before childbirth
A few days before leaving for the maternity hospital, it is obligatory:
Tell us where you are going and why.
Ask him to help collect all the necessary things.
Get your child to spend time at home.
It is not necessary to send the eldest to the grandparents or aunts/uncles during childbirth. This is not a very good psychological move - the elder will return, and you are already “with a gift”. It is completely wrong and incorrect in relation to the baby, even the older one.
If there is simply no one to leave the child at home with, then you need to make sure that for the time he is not at home, his relatives organize exciting leisure for him. It is impossible to allow a situation for a small person to feel “as if in exile”.
Life hack! While you are in the hospital, leave something valuable for your baby and ask him to save this thing, keep it until you return. You can also entrust the elder to perform some important chores around the house. But the main thing - as soon as you have time, do not forget to call your baby and ask how he is doing.
6. Remember to keep an eye on older relatives
Talk to your parents as seriously as possible while you are pregnant. Indeed, situations like this happen too often in life:
grandparents blow off dust particles from their eldest granddaughter;
“gasp” and “groan”, pitying the child in every possible way, saying “what will happen now”;
in general, in every possible way aggravate an already very difficult situation.
Here is an example of one common situation:
A newborn brother or sister appears in the house.
The elder begins to sincerely love him/her and helps his mother in every possible way with taking care of him/her.
A “kind” grandmother appears, who “opens her eyes” to the child to the “bitter truth” that now they will love him much less ...
And all this is supported by "facts" - they say, "Look how your parents are messing with him, now they will not be able to devote as much time to you as before." Yes, older parents may not be doing this out of malice (although there are exceptions), but your duty is to have a serious talk with them and put everything in its place. Otherwise, the child will really begin to "go into himself" or that - in general, he will hate the recently born baby.
Of course, in such a situation it is unrealistic to somehow change the worldview and concepts of people. But you can change the way your child sees the world. Otherwise, he may start:
become excessively withdrawn;
become angry "at the whole world";
even get psychologically traumatized. ..
The solution to the problem is one and very cardinal - to categorically stop absolutely all incorrect statements of adults in relation to the older child. And you need to do this in the presence of the child himself, so that he understands that you are on his side and grandparents are wrong.
Another very important topic. For clarity and better understanding, let's analyze it step by step:
Absolutely all parents want their children to grow up independent and self-sufficient. So that they can take responsibility for their actions and be held accountable.
To achieve this, you need to prepare for the fact that sometimes you have to take the side of the elder, and not the younger. But here it is important not to "go too far" and not to say something like "he's the youngest, why offend him?".
It is important to find a balance and build a relationship between both children so that they do not constantly compete or play games like "bring the little sister. "
The birth of a child is stressful not only for mom/dad, but also for the older baby. This must be accepted. And understand that problems cannot be avoided. Consider the most common of them, as well as solutions to be ready for literally anything.
Flip-flop stress relief toys
Elder reacted negatively to the birth of the younger
After the birth of another child, older children may react negatively to this fact:
are asked to take it back to the maternity hospital;
try in every possible way to “tear off” the youngest from his mother;
sometimes they even beat him, push him, call him names, etc.
In this plan, children's ingenuity is fully revealed. Parents need to understand that at a young age, children cannot potentially appreciate the damage they can do to the baby. After all, “cruelty” for them is a concept that is still beyond understanding. You, as a parent, must remember:
“A child most needs to be loved when he least deserves it”…
How to solve the problem? Allow the elder to experience all the negative feelings that he has accumulated:
Be sure to talk to your older child about his feelings. And clearly explain that he has every right to express his thoughts and show his position, but it is impossible to offend, and even more so beat a brother or sister. No other way.
The elder became excessively “good” after the appearance of a brother/sister
Another common situation:
While the parents are touched by the baby, the elder helps them.
He himself approaches the newborn, hugs him, kisses him, changes diapers, etc.
And after some time, problems develop: the elder begins to bite his nails, make fingers, urinary incontinence develops, stuttering, nervous tics, and so on.
Here we need a slightly different approach than in the previous case - it is necessary to give the child the opportunity to express his feelings through some kind of activity. For example, drawing, modeling, hobbies, sections, etc. In extreme cases, you will have to contact a psychologist.
The older child constantly takes away his toys from the younger child
You will quickly understand that he does this not because he wants to play with the younger one, but because of the negative feelings he has for him. Way out: get the elder interested in new toys, tell, for example, that rattles are for very young children and they definitely don’t fit him “by age” (it all depends on how old the older one is).
Alternative: let the older child choose a toy for the newborn sibling.