Sibling Rivalry: Tips for Bringing Home a New Baby

by Helen Moon

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Having a second baby is obviously very exciting... but it can also be a little scary, wondering how your first child will react to the new baby.

Here are a few simple tips to make the transition a smooth and happy one:

1. First and foremost, talk to your toddler/child about the new baby that's coming.

Let them feel your stomach, and explain how exciting it was for you when your first child was in your stomach just like this new baby. Tell your child little stories about what he/she did in your stomach - like whether he/she had hiccups a lot, or kicked a lot. If you feel the new baby hiccup, let your child feel that too and laugh with him/her about how he/she did the same.

2. When you are setting up the nursery, ask your older child to help you. Let them make a few little decisions about where things should go. Ask whether they think the new baby will like his/her room. Again mention how excited and happy it made you, when you were getting your older child’s room ready.

3. Plan ahead as far as who will be with your older child while you are in the hospital. Do you have grandparents who can help, a good friend, a nanny? Make sure your child knows the plan and have him packed ready, so it’s an exciting adventure waiting to happen.

4. This - to me - is the most important thing: when your child first meets the new baby, make sure Mom isn’t holding the baby so your first child can run and get a hug from Mom. This is so that your older child knows you are still there for him/her. They will be excited about the new baby as long as they know Mommy still wants them and the new baby isn’t replacing them!

5. At home, make sure your toddler feels included in little things that you do with the new baby. When you’re changing the baby’s diaper, talk to your toddler about what you are doing and ask him to pass you a clean diaper. Explain that you used to do the same for him/hr when he/she was little. If you need a burp cloth and your toddler can reach, ask him/her to get it for you. If you can, keep a book close by when you are feeding your baby so you can read to your toddler at the same time, so he/she always feels included.

6. Try to make sure that you continue little routines you had with your toddler before the new baby came along. If you always read a story before he/she goes to bed try to continue to do that. Make some special time for your toddler when the baby is sleeping.

All of these little things will make such a difference to your toddler. He/she will feel included, happy and know that the new baby is not replacing him.

I see many families by a present for the toddler when the new baby comes home, while every toddler loves to get a present, just remember it is you that he/she wants more!

Enjoy your little ones, they grow so fast.

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