“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 really wanted my advice (I'm a mum of three) on how to help her three-year-old child adjust to the new baby.
Here are some tips that I shared with her.
How to help your child adjust to the new baby
Image source: iStock
Before the baby comes
It is good to help your child adjust to the new baby, even before the new baby is born!
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.
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. This will help your child adjust to the new 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. This will help your child adjust to the new baby.
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. This too will help the child adjust to the new baby.
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.
Keeping all the pointers in mind you can easily help your child adjust to the new baby.
Also Read: What to do when your child gets jealous of the new baby!