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Preparing your child for a sibling

image 509The arrival of a new-born will take up much of the parents’ time once they arrive. The first born who is used to being the centre of attention will naturally find this difficult to handle and the jealousy may cause them to act out.

Therefore it is necessary for parents to prepare them as much as possible for the new addition to the family so that sibling bonding can be encouraged instead of sibling rivalry. Here are some ways to do this.

  • Prepare your child. Talk to him about the expected new arrival. The level of detail you provide depends on his age and maturity. Tell him who will be taking care of him when you are in hospital nearer to the time.
  • Read books to him or show him kiddie movies about getting a new brother or sister. Take him to visit family and friends with new babies. Give little girls a doll to take care of and draw parallels to a new baby.
  • For mums, encourage your child to view time spent with their Dad as fun and exciting as they will have to do more of it when you are pre-occupied with your baby.
  • If your child is ready to start pre-school, let them start before the baby arrives as they should not feel that they are being “sent away” because of the new baby. Other big changes like toilet-training, moving rooms and weaning should also be done long before the new baby arrives.
  • Let your older child feel like part of the welcoming team for the new baby instead of the first child vying for the parents’ attention. Let him help choose the new baby’s clothes. Refer to the new baby as “Your brother/sister”.
  • When the baby arrives, let your older child visit you and the new baby as soon as possible. Lavish him with attention instead of the new baby. Give him gifts as well. You may want to tell close family and friends to give big brother/sister gifts instead of new baby gifts. Some experts say that you should give the first-born gifts “from” his new sibling.
  • Let him help with the new baby. He can fetch nappies and wet wipes for you or entertain baby while you are changing her.

If your child is feeling jealous of the new baby and the attention everyone is lavishing on the new baby, don’t be impatient with him. Rather respond with empathy and remind him that you love him and that he will always be your first baby.

Spend special time with him when the newborn is asleep. He should feel secure in your love for him.

Specially written for www.babiesonline.co.za by Sara Essop

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