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After the Birth
Just as important as preparing siblings for the arrival of a new baby is understanding children's normal feelings of jealousy after the baby is born. Imagine how you would feel if your partner said one day, "Honey, I love you so much I'm bringing home another wife (or husband). From now on this person whom I love, too, will be sharing our life together."
It's no surprise then that young children often act even younger when a new baby joins the family. They may not sleep as well, cry more, want baby bottles or the breast if already weaned, whine, are more demanding in general, and might wet their pants if previously potty trained.
Although the birth of a baby is usually most disruptive to a first-born, according to British researchers in Mothering, a child's reaction depends mostly on personality. Usually by the time the new baby is eight months old, with her quite obvious personality, siblings imitate their mothers and want to help care for the baby.
What Parents Can Do After the Birth
- Arrange for siblings to visit if Mom and baby are in the hospital for a few days.
- When the new baby comes home, arrange for someone to bring over a birthday cake.
- Have the baby and your older child exchange presents.
- Have gifts on hand for the older childwhen friends and family bring baby gifts.
- Encourage fathers, aunts, uncles, and grandparents to spend more time with the older child.
- Give the older child status with special jobs to help the family, then praise him for his helpfulness.
- Ask him to help set the table for meals or get the mail.
- Every day find a way to spend time alone with your older children and focus solely on them.
- Encourage the sibling to play with the doll he practiced on before the baby was born.
- Have a place for the older children where their belongings will not be disturbed by a crawling baby in the months to come.
- Calmly accept any negative feelings your older child expresses about the baby, while at the same time emphasize the baby is always to be treated gently.