How to help siblings adjust to the new baby
Here's how to help siblings adjust to the new baby for an easy transitionAdding a new member to the family is wonderful occasion, but it will involve an adjustment period for your existing children. Sibling rivalry can begin as early as the announcement of a pregnancy. For many, accepting a new brother or sister will be one of the first major challenges they face.
Learn how to help siblings adjust to the new baby and ease their minds. Address the worries they may have about not feeling loved and soon they’ll begin to see the new baby as a best buddy. It won’t happen overnight – highly sensitive children typically take longer to adapt – but they’ll come around.
During this time, many moms worry more about their older children than getting the nursery ready or dealing with morning sickness. Naturally, parents want their kids to get along. The more proactive they are about fostering a loving relationship during the first few days and into the early years, the better.
Giving them a personalized book or big sibling gift, spending quality time with them and talking to them about the baby will make a big impact. From their perspective, a new baby changes everything. Now they have another person sharing attention, love, space and even toys. Plus their place in the family is shifting and suddenly fairness is top of mind.
There’s a reason for the countless parenting books on how to help siblings adjust to the new baby. It’s a universal issue. Your child’s negative reaction, while not what you may have hoped for, is completely normal.
Ways to smooth the transition
Set up play dates
Inviting the older siblings to help pick out colors for the nursery or decorate is a simple way to turn baby-prep tasks into family activities. Getting them outside to play with other kids will make a difference, too. Experts say siblings who have close friendships have better relationships with younger siblings.
Emphasize the positives
Tell your children the big news before announcing your new baby with style. Talking about the baby regularly will prepare them to accept that this baby will be a part of the future. Phrase things inclusively so they see their new sibling as a whole new person to love and be loved by. Explaining about the new child’s needs, likes and dislikes will help them think of the baby as a person and may even build some excitement.
Ask for their help
Babies are about as high maintenance as a person can be. Help is always nice to have and who better to ask than your child? Ask their opinion on what to dress their new sibling in or if they’ll tell the baby story.
Young kids are full of energy and make for animated entertainers. It’s a win-win. The baby will giggle and the older sibling will love having an audience. Boost their confidence with observations like “Only you can make her smile like that!” or asking them to demonstrate how they do little things like put on socks.
Give them space
Sometimes they’ll want to spend time with their new brother or sister. Sometimes they’ll want to play on their own. Ignoring the new tiny person in their life is a way they cope when frustrated.
Talking about the baby and how life will change helps you prepare them. Listening to how they feel helps them honestly express any negative thoughts they may have. Encourage them to talk openly often. Experts advise to listen and ask questions, but never discount or tell them how to feel.
Reward good behavior
Attention is one thing children crave. Jumping in the middle of sibling squabbles or giving them attention when they bicker encourages bad behavior. Instead reward them with praise when they play nice or when your older child shares without being told to.
Trying different ways for how to help siblings adjust to the new baby will be good for the whole family. There’s bound to be some tough days at first. More often than not you’ll catch them playing games, giggling or napping together.