One of the biggest challenges parents face when a new baby enters the picture is smoothing over the new relationship between the siblings. Kids react differently to a new baby. Some want to nurture the new baby and act almost as if they were second parents. Others are jealous of the attention the baby gets; they may start acting out or reverting to babyish behaviors. There are a wide variety of emotional reactions parents have experienced during these times, but the good news is that some of the problems can be lessened.
Preparations before Baby’s Arrival
Some parents make the mistake of trying to correct problems after the baby has already come home, but you should really take a pro-active approach starting the day you find out you’re expecting. For starters, find ways to make your other child or children feel as if they are helping you prepare for the new baby. If you’re redoing a nursery, for instance, let your other children help you make decorating choices. Let them help choose toys, books, and other items for the new baby.
Another way to get them involved is by having them help with the baby shower. For example, the host of the shower might let your children pick out the invitations. The Stork Invitations or the wiggling baby stroller invitations in pink and blue are popular choices with kids. They can also choose a theme, decorate, and greet guests.
Preparations after Baby’s Arrival
While you’re at the hospital, your other children may feel scared and alone because they are out of the loop. Call them frequently and make sure they know what is going on. After the delivery, have the dad take the other children out to dinner at their favorite restaurant to celebrate the new baby’s arrival.
When you come home, spend some time with the other children without the new baby. You might want to watch a favorite movie or television show with them, for example. Obviously, you won’t feel much like playing or leaving the house so make sure your other children realize you need some time to recuperate.
Another idea is to buy a special present for your other children and bring it home along with the new baby. Tell the kids that the gift is from the new baby who wanted to do something special for his/her siblings. Of course, this may not work with older siblings.
As the family becomes used to having the new baby around, make sure to spend some time alone with the other children every day and to encourage them to help with the new baby whenever possible. When they feel like they are important to you, then their jealousy or other emotional reactions to the baby will be minimized.