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Help your child adjust to the new baby

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Help your child adjust smoothly to her new role as the older brother or sister to the new baby in the family. This article provides suggestions you can follow in order to do that.

“I’m excited to give birth to my second baby but I’m worried about my eldest daughter,” my best friend Joy tells me during her fifth month of pregnancy. She is referring to the adjustment of her three-year-old daughter when the new baby comes.

She asked for advice or suggestions on what she can do to help her daughter accept that she will no longer be the only child in the family. So I imparted to her some of the things I have learned from my experiences with helping each my first two children to adjust to the arrival of a new baby.

Before the baby comes
It is good to start preparing your child for the coming of her sibling even while you are still pregnant. First of all, it is  necessary that you express your love and affection to your child. Always say “I love you.” Give her hugs and kisses. Let her feel secure with the love you have for her. And as your tummy begins to bulge, tell her that there is a baby growing inside it.

It’s better if you can find story books that talk about babies and what goes on in mummy’s tummy. Read these books to her before she goes to sleep. Demonstrate talking to the baby and let her do the same. Ask her to say “I love you” to the baby. Allow her to also hug the baby inside your tummy. As you do this everyday, she will grow accustomed to the baby as a part of the family even when it has not arrived. You can also bring her along during your pre-natal visits to the doctor. Involve her in everything.

These are what I did when I was pregnant with my second child and my eldest daughter was two years old at the time. I also applied the same steps when the third baby came. I found out that each of them has adjusted quickly to  the new baby when it came out. I attributed this pleasant attitude with the fact that my husband and I continued to shower each of my children with attention and love as we prepared for the coming of the baby.

When the new baby arrives
Once the baby is born, let her touch and hold the baby. But just be cautious of what she might do. She might hold the baby too tightly and be unaware of it. Talk to her about her new role as the elder sister. Ask her to do small tasks as you care for the baby. When bathing the baby, ask her to rub soap on the arms or legs of her sibling. When you dress up the baby, let her pass on to you the baby’s clothes or things. If the baby is fed with infant formula, let her hold the bottle.

You can also read again and again to her story books that talk about her role as the eldest of the young. She can even pretend to read it to her sister or brother. Point out to her how small her sibling is by observing the parts of her sibling’s body. This is to show that her sibling is fragile and that she has  to take care of her/ him.

Never fail to express and demonstrate love and affection to your child. Make her see that she is still loved even when there is already a new baby in the family. Spend time to tickle her, to cuddle her and to attend to her needs. If there are times when she  ignores her sibling, then don’t force her. Let her do what she wants to do as she copes with the changes that are taking place.

There are children who can easily adjust but there are some who cannot. A few find it difficult to accept the fact that they will no longer be the baby of the family. But you can help them in the transition by being loving and caring. When you see signs of jealousy in the older child, assure her that you love her as much as the new addition.

Do not harshly scold or reprimand her. If she shows signs of aggression, gently point out that her actions will harm her sibling. Don’t rush things for your child. Be patient with her. In time, she will get used to becoming the older sister you can be proud of.

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