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When bringing a new baby home with a sibling often it’s difficult for parents especially moms to naturally feel anxious how her oldest child will handle it. Mom is exhausted and now she has to worry about taking care of her newborn AND pay attention to her other child/children. It is quite a normal event for children to have siblings. Research shows the normative development for first born is a normal process of developmental change for most children. Although, many parents struggle with this transition especially in the first few months.
Transition in general can be tricky for children. Some children have a hard time and experience the anxiety of wondering what comes next and need time to process from giving a 5-min warning to using pictures of their daily routine. Every child is unique. Through experience it tends to be the norm for children to experience some level of anxiety with transitions. This makes complete sense as to why bringing a new younger sibling into the house can feel awkward and feel that they are being ignored. Natural part of development for toddlers is to crave and require attention from their parents.
Prep child prior to baby arriving
- Wait until moms belly is fully showing and is recognizable to child that she is pregnant to avoid months of anxiety driven conversation
- Explain when the baby is arriving by using a reference the child can relate to for example: in summer time when we start going swimming or around Easter when we take pictures with the Easter bunny. Children are not able to conceptualize time
- Prepare your child by letting them know what will happen the day of, night before, or even 2-3 days out without knowing exactly when your new baby will arrive. For ex will grandma or auntie be coming over to play games
- Get a calendar- mark an x for each day up to mommy delivering the baby. You can begin 7 days out to relieve some expectations and gives a concrete visual for the child
Communication between mom/dad of expectations and being on the same page
- Discuss dads involvement with keeping older child/children busy from playing a game, reading a book every single night at bedtime (situational)
- Plan outings with older child with dad or family member outside of the home
Mommy returns from the hospital
- Involve your child in helping with the baby. Example: grab babies bottle, diaper bag, etc
- When baby is napping play time with older child even if only for 10-min
- Read a book to older child while nursing (I know this could be total craziness!)
- Simple reminders for child that they have special time with daddy to go to the park
- Validate your child’s feelings by getting down to their level and stating, “I know this is hard as mommy needs to spend a lot of time with baby and remind him/her that you did the same things with them” but, you are a big brother and when he/she gets older you get to show them how to play with toys, how cool is that!”
When behaviors arise such as hitting, increase in tantrums
- Address immediately that those behaviors are unacceptable in a gentle and loving way again explaining that you understand you want my attention.
- Redirect and don’t focus on what the child did wrong
- Replace behaviors with modeling expressing their emotions when they are upset without hitting
- Tantrums- give space and ride it out!
Amanda Houle is the Founder of Parenting With a Punch offering straightforward and nurturing strategies for parents and couples who want more. Amanda strongly believes parenting on the same page, positive discipline, owning your energy, and healthy communication are the essential steps to creating the family life of your dreams and she has the tools to get you there!
Amanda hails from Brooklyn, NY back to the Greater Boston area. She has a Dual Masters degree in Special and General Elementary Education with a specialization in Early Childhood and an undergraduate degree in Psychology. Her niche is working with families with children ages 2-6 years old. Amanda gets so much joy from teaching families how to learn to enjoy their parenting journey. Amanda loves yoga, coffee, and is training for her first half-marathon