How to Help Older Children Accept the New Arrival

Teach Life Skills

“One of the best things you can do is help children learn life skills before the baby comes home,” SuperNanny Jo Frost says. “You need to do it anyway, and this is the time.”

The older child will feel a sense of achievement. They need to know how to feed themselves, dress themselves, and many other skills, depending on their age, to be more self-sufficient. “You don’t want to have two babies,” she adds.

Once the baby arrives, you may want to help the older child hold it, discuss that they are a “big boy” or “big girl,” and show them how to deal with the baby and let them do it while watching them, Frost says.

Make the Journey Fun

“It’s inevitable that a child will ask, ‘When is it coming?’ But nine months is a long time,” Frost says. “Your older child is likely to ask often about how much longer it will be.” Make the journey fun with a countdown calendar or anything else that will help your older one understand the process takes time, she says.

Don’t Make Everything about the Baby

“Not everything you do is because of the baby, and don’t leave your older child with the impression that everything he or she does is around baby,” Frost says.  “It can build resentment.”

Be sure to do things that are fun for the older child. “Don’t let them forget how important they are,” Frost says. “Most parents say they just didn’t know if they had enough love in their heart to love a second child like they love the first one. Of course, they find out they can, but make sure you communicate how important your first child is.”

Work on Patience

It’s going to take the firstborn longer to get used to the baby than it will take you, Frost says. “Work on the transition before and after the baby arrives,” she says. “Putting everything into place physically and mentally for a new baby can be overwhelming. You have a new routine, double work, and you need to get sleep as much as possible.”

Anticipate Sibling Rivalry

“Curb bad behavior by showing that all actions with the baby should be through love,” Frost says.  “All behavior has boundaries … but what your child may be testing or asking is, ‘Am I still loved by my parents?’”

Share the Load

“I definitely urge parents to communicate how they will handle everything ahead of time,” Frost says. “Of course some things will have to be handled on the fly, but try to have the important conversations ahead of time.”

This not only includes how to handle the older child’s behavior, but basic things like how your baby is going to be fed, and based on that, who will handle feeding and changing shifts, who will put the baby to bed, bath time, helping the older child, etc. “This creates a smooth transition, and also it makes it easier for the older children,” Frost adds.

Planning ahead also gives the parents peace of mind, Frost says.

“Feeling good about the situation creates a healthy energy, and children are really receptive to the overall energy between the parents and in the home,” Frost says.

 – Carol Muse Evans

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