A new baby changes your family. It is an exciting time. But a new baby can be hard for your older child or children. Learn how you can help your older child get ready for a new baby.
Tell your child that you are pregnant when you are ready to share the news. Try to let them know before everyone around them is talking about it.
Know that your child will notice that you feel tired or sick. Try to stay positive so your child won’t resent the baby for making you feel bad.
Let your child decide how much they want to know and how much they want to talk about the baby.
Be prepared for your child to ask, “Where does the baby come from?” Know what you are comfortable talking about. Keep the conversation at their level and answer their questions. You can:
Understand your child’s sense of time. A young child will not understand that the baby won’t come for months. Explain your due date with times that make sense to your child. For example, tell them that the baby is coming when it gets cold out or when it gets hot out.
Try not to ask your child if they want a brother or sister. If the baby isn’t what they want, they may be disappointed.
As your belly gets bigger, your child will notice:·
Explain to them that having a baby is hard work. Reassure them that you are okay and that they are still very important to you.
Know that your child may get clingy.Your child may act up. Set limits with your child as you always have. Be caring and let your child know they are still important. Below are some things that you can do.
Your child likes to hear about herself. Show your child pictures of when you were pregnant with her and pictures of her as a baby. Tell your child stories of what you did with her as a baby. Tell your child how excited you were when she was born. Help your child see that this is what having a new baby is like.
Encourage your child to play with a doll. Your child can feed, diaper, and care for the baby doll. Let your child play with some of the baby things. Your child may want to dress their stuffed animals or dolls in the clothes. Tell your child she can help do this with the real baby.
Try to keep to your child’s regular routines as much as possible. Let your child know the things that will stay the same after the baby comes, such as:
Avoid telling your child to act like a big boy or a big girl. Remember that your child thinks of herself as your baby.
Don’t push potty training right before or right after the baby is born.
Don’t push your child to give up their baby blanket.
If you are moving your child to a new room or to a new bed, do this weeks before your due date. Give your child time to make the change before the baby comes.
Ask your child to help get ready for the new baby. Your child can help:
Make arrangements for your older child. Tell your child who will take care of her when you have the baby. Let your child know that you will not be gone for long.
Plan for your child to visit you and the new baby in the hospital. Have your child visit when there are not a lot of other visitors. On the day that you take the baby home, have your older child come to the hospital to "help."
For younger children, a small gift (such as a toy or stuffed animal) “from the baby” is often helpful to help the child deal with the family adding a new baby.
Let your child know what the baby will do:
Also explain what the baby can’t do. The baby can’t talk, but he or she can cry. And the baby can’t play; they are too little. But the baby will like watching your child play, dance, sing, and jump.
Try to spend a little time each day with the older child. Do this when the baby is napping or when another adult can watch the baby.
Encourage your child to help with the baby. Know that this takes longer than doing it yourself. Your child can:
Ask visitors to play and talk with the older child as well as visit with the new baby. Let your child open the baby's gifts.
When you breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby, read a story, sing, or cuddle with your older child too.
Know that your child will have mixed feelings about the new baby.
Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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