By Dr. Sarah Willard, Christie Clinic Department of Pediatrics
Welcoming a new baby into the family can be an exciting and joyful time, but it can also be a challenging adjustment for siblings. Here are some tips for helping siblings adjust to a new baby:
- Involve siblings in the preparation process: Engage siblings in the preparation for the new baby’s arrival, such as picking out baby clothes, choosing a name, or decorating the baby’s room. This can help them feel like they have a role in the process and are part of the excitement.
- Prepare siblings for changes: Explain to siblings how their lives will change once the baby arrives. Talk to them about what they can expect, such as less attention from parents or changes in routine. Read books about having a new baby.
- Maintain a routine: Stick to the family’s normal routine as much as possible, even with the new addition. This can help siblings feel a sense of normalcy and stability during a time of change.
- Spend one-on-one time with siblings: Make an effort to spend one-on-one time with siblings, even if it’s just a few minutes each day. This can help them feel valued and important, despite the attention the new baby may be receiving.
- Encourage involvement with the new baby: Encourage siblings to help with the new baby, such as bringing diapers to help with diaper changes or singing lullabies. This can help them feel like they have an important role to play in the family.
- Praise positive behavior: Praise siblings when they exhibit positive behavior around the new baby, such as being gentle or helping out. This can reinforce positive behavior and encourage siblings to continue to be helpful and kind.
- Don’t blame the baby: try to use verbiage such as “I’ll be right there” or “let me focus on this, then I’ll focus on you” so they do not associate the baby as to why you cannot give your full attention to them in the moment.
- Be patient: It’s normal for siblings to feel a range of emotions when a new baby arrives. They may feel jealousy, anger, or confusion. Be patient and understanding. Give siblings time to adjust to the changes.
Remember that each family is different, and what works for one may not work for another. With patience, love, and understanding, siblings can adjust to the new baby and form a strong bond that will last a lifetime.
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