The arrival of a new sibling brings lots of changes and distruptions to daily routines. It is common for children to feel jealous and regress during this time. Preparing your child for the arrival of a new sibling can help ease into the change.
What to Do Before a New Sibling Arrives
Discuss what to expect ahead of time. In a way that is age-appropriate to your child discuss how the arrival of a new sibling will change their daily routine. For example, talk to them about possibility of being woken up in the middle of the night to the baby crying as well as positive things to look forward to like taking the baby for walks in the park.
Children younger than two years old likely won’t understand yet what it means to have a new sibling. Regularly talk to your child about the new addition to your family with picture books about babies and families.
Keep routines as regular as possible. Children thrive on predictablity! They feel confident and at ease when they know what to expect on comes next.
If possible, plan to handle major milestones like potty training or moving out of a crib way before the arrivial or after a few months when the baby is born.
Toddlers and preschoolers will show more attachement to their parents and jealous feelings around a new baby will show. Talk to your child about the attention the new baby will receive and the role of being a big brother or sister. Include them in shopping for baby supplies, read to them about babies and being a big brother or sister. Look at their baby pictures and tell them the new baby will be similar…. You can even give them their own special doll to care for.
School-age children might feel jealous as well. Talk your older child about the advantages of being older, go to bed later and being independent. If your child shows interest you can ask them if they would like to help take care of the baby.
What to Do After a New Sibling Arrives
Ask your child often how they are feeling – LISTEN.
Regression may happen – and that’s OK! Continue to give love and reassurance during this big transition. If your child acts out, don’t bend the rules, but understand what feeling may be motivating the behavior. Make it clear you understand their feelings are important and model an appriopate ways to communicate. Modeling is the key factor. Children model what they see and what we do.
Arrange special one-on-one time with you routinely. Have your child suggest a fun activity or something special the two of you can do. An activity you would not be able to do with the new sibling.