Helping Your Child Adjust To The New Baby
A new baby can create an atmosphere of great excitement for the whole family. If you already have a child, remember that time and patience is needed in order to adjust to the anticipated changes in the family structure. The idea can be introduced in a natural way so that your child doesn't feel threatened or pressured. Talk openly about the pregnancy and the baby but don't make it the center of all conversations.
Include your child in the different activities that relate to the pregnancy. Involve them in picking a name or have them join you on shopping expeditions to choose clothes and other items for the baby. Let your child feel the baby kicking and talk to him about the baby growing inside. Encourage your child to make a picture as a welcome or ask him to help you make a special gift for the baby.
Create any necessary changes to your child's routine in a smooth and natural way. If your child needs to move his room for the baby or sleep in a new bed, make the adjustments a number of months before the baby is born. Begin by talking about the idea. Rather than associating these changes with the baby, explain that this is an exciting and special time for your child. Involve him in choosing his new bed or picking new decorations for his room.
Reassure your child that the special times you spend with him will continue. Think of ways in which you can maintain the unique relationship you have with your child. You can arrange with your partner to continue the fun at bathtime, walks to the park, reading, and bedtime rituals which are often the most cherished times for parents and children. As the new baby becomes older, you can gradually include him in the activities too.
Children seem to adjust more easily to a new baby when they feel secure and surrounded by other adults who can also give them attention. Grandparents and family friends can aid in making a smooth transition for your child.
Again, start any new routines well before the baby arrives. Organize a specific time each week that your child can spend with his extended family or with friends who also have children. This can then continue after the baby is born and your child won't feel he is being pushed away. It is easy for visitors to pay all the attention to the new baby, which can make the older child feel left out. A small reminder to them to also acknowledge the big brother or sister is very important.
Simple but lovely way to begin the bond between siblings is for the baby to bring a gift at birth. Purchase a small but relevant gift for your child before the baby is born. Wrap it up and have it ready to give the child when he first meets the baby. Explain that the baby was very excited to meet his new brother or sister and wanted to bring something special. Small children love the idea of opening gifts and this will help them to feel part of the whole experience. They can also open the gifts that people bring for the baby too. This will help them to feel included and they will enjoy showing the baby what is inside the parcel.
Encourage your child to help take care of the baby. They love to feel important so ask them to fetch towels, clothes or diapers. Let your child hold the baby with your assistance. Have you child watch you bath the baby and help to sprinkle talcum powder and gently dry him. Remember to have an adult around when your children spend time together. Small children are not aware of their strength and can forget that their little baby brother or sister is 'real'.
Many small children enjoy playing at being mother too. You can purchase a doll or soft toy that your child can undress, bathe and feed so that they feel part of the activities you are doing. This helps them to feel more connected to you and the baby and happy that they too have something to take care of.
A growing family is a wonderful and natural process. If the changes are made in a smooth and flexible way, the whole family will also adjust in an easy manner. Small children can become confused and frustrated if their routine is upset in an abrupt fashion. Some children need time to accept their new brother or sister while others bond very quickly. If you child seems to be having a problem, talk to him and let him know it is okay to take time to love his sibling. Patience and gentle words will help him feel safe and understand that his brother or sister is a wonderful addition to the family.
"We find delight in the beauty and happiness of children that makes the heart too big for the body." - Ralph Waldo Emerson