Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

5 Tips to help an Older Sibling Adjust when New Baby Comes Home


By: Dyan Eybergen

When you're used to being King or Queen of the castle, it can be hard for a child of any age to share his/her space...and mom and dad...with a newborn. Jealousy will often rear its ugly head no matter what parents did to prepare their child for the birth of a sibling.

Here are some tips that will help older children transition, and adjust after the new baby is born:


  1. When visitors come to "ooh" and "ahh" over the baby, ask your older child to introduce his/her sibling. Older children will take much pride in being the one to show off the new addition to the family.

  2. Ask relatives who are likely to bring a gift for the baby to also bring something for your older child in celebration of his/her new status as big brother/sister (it doesn't have to be an expensive gift, it's the acknowledgment that is important).

  3. Give your older child the responsibility for certain baby-care activities: replenishing the diaper bag with diapers; washing the baby's toes while you hold baby in the bath; sprinkling powder on baby after bath time, sing to baby before settling to sleep, etc.

  4. Create a "feeding basket" where every morning you and your older child stock the basket with a snack, a beverage, some books, a puzzle and whatever else your child might be interested in. During those times when you have to feed the baby, ask your older child to get the "feeding basket" and come and join you and babe. This way, your older child will have everything on hand and will not have to clamour for your attention to get him/her a drink or snack or play a game. Your older child can sit with you while you feed and you can read, help with mastery over a puzzle or just enjoy chit chat during the feeding of baby.

  5. Carve out some special mommy or daddy time with your older child for at least 20 minutes a day where you can sit down just the two of you and engage in some quality play without baby around. If it's dad's special time with the eldest child, then mom is taking care of babe and vice verse. Older children need to feel like they still "belong" to their parents and that baby hasn't come to replace them in all the ways they use to recieve attention from you.

Older children will usually revert to a previous stage of development after baby comes home from hospital.This is not atypical and is usually quite self limiting if parents help to transition and make the experience of adjustment to the new baby positive for the older child. View any misbehaviour or demonstrations of jealously from the older child's perspective. Change is hard for everyone. Compassion and understanding will help older siblings adapt to the new situation and ground their sense of belonging to the family by adding the role of big brother/sister to their identity within the family unit.

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