Having a baby can be an exciting time for families. It may also lead to a major adjustment period for any existing children involved, especially little ones. Being prepared, having patience and applying a strategic approach can help set a successful outcome. Here are some suggestions to help siblings feel more involved and secure during this period of transition.
1. Consider involving the children in prenatal visits from the beginning, as appropriate.
2. Use children’s books to explain basic facts about conception, pregnancy, and birth.
3. Visit the hospital with the children at some point, and explain what will happen when you go to the hospital for the birth.
4. Include children in planning for baby’s homecoming. Let them pick out a new gift for the new baby. Parents, consider also buying a gift from the baby to give to the other children.
5. Praise any positive attention that siblings give to the new baby.
6. Involve siblings in age-appropriate baby care (handing you a diaper/wipes).
7. Assure older siblings of how important they are to you always. Spend individual time with them each day, even if it is for a short time.
8. Allow children to express their feelings about the baby and any changes that may be affecting them.
9. Provide a “Nursing Box.” This is a box of toys for older children that is brought out only during nursing time. This allows them to engage with something, keeping them busy while you are feeding the baby.
10. Some children may regress or have setbacks in milestones they have recently achieved. They may regress with toilet training, using baby talk, or wanting to use a pacifier. Keep a consistent routine even with these setbacks to get them back on track.
11. Lastly, increase your demonstrations of love for the child. That extra dose of time and adjustment may be just what he or she needs during this period of change. One extra kiss, one extra hug can make all the difference.
For more information, call the New Parent Support program at 623-856-3417. Portions of this article are found at Brightfutures.org.
56th Medical Support Squadron