You just found out you’re going to have a new baby! This is thrilling news for you and the hubby, but not necessarily for your older child. Your firstborn may feel she will lose her place in the spotlight, or resent having to sharing you with another child. Rest assured that these reactions are normal and can be solved. Here are some tips to help her adjust to the arrival of a new baby brother or sister:
Include her from the start.
Tell your child about the baby as soon as you find out. The more you delay, the more she may feel that you are shutting her out of your life.
Involve her in the process.
Let her touch your belly, feel the kicks, talk to the baby, and look at the ultrasound printout. Get her ready for the extra time and attention your newborn will need by looking through her baby photo album together and telling her about all the good memories you have of that period, but also the love and work you put into her feeding, bathing, ang diapering.
Give her simple decisions to make.
Asking for her opinion on the baby’s name or what color to paint the nursery will make her feel important.
Don’t kick her out right away.
If you need to move her to a different bedroom, do it a couple of months before the baby’s arrival, not the minute you find out about your pregnancy. This way, she doesn’t feel displaced.
Explain what will happen once you go into labor.
Prepare your child for your upcoming absence by telling her who will take care of her, how long you’ll be gone, when the baby will come home, and so on. If possible, have her visit you in the hospital after the birth so she feels that she’s an essential part of your new, larger family from the start. Take pictures of her with the baby — giving her the message that this is a monumental time for her, too, as the big sister.
Put her on “baby duty”.
Once you and baby come home, let your firstborn help out. Ask her to bring you the wipes and diapers or to watch and entertain the baby while you make dinner. When baby cries, ask her to gently pat her back or find her pacifier. If she begs to hold her new sibling, have her sit in a chair with pillows on either side of her, then prop the baby in her lap and stay nearby to make sure all is well.
Employ reverse psychology.
Point out how being a baby isn’t all that great, despite the fact that receives a great deal of attention. This not only shows her you understand and respect the difference in skill level between big sister and baby, but also encourages empathy. “I feel sorry for your little sister. She can’t eat anything she wants; she can’t run and hop and jump; she can’t play outside with her friends and she doesn’t understand a word we say!”
Get friends and relatives involved.
When they come over to visit you and the baby, ask them to bring small presents or tokens for your older child as well.