How to Prepare Your Child for a New Baby
(CBS) How will your child react to a new sibling?
In our series, “Early’s Having a Baby,” child and adolescent psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein discussed some of the ways parents can make the transition simpler for their kids when a new baby becomes part of the family.
So what should a parent be doing in the last couple weeks of pregnancy to prepare siblings for the arrival of a new baby brother or sister?
Hartstein said, “Preparing really for the big change that will happen when you bring the baby home. Your time is going to be very different. They want the baby to come home and play with their trains and play. They’re going to cry, they’re going to sleep, they’re going to eat. That’s what babies do, so it’s preparing your kids also for this. They aren’t the new doll in the house. You’ll be more tired, significant others will be more tired.”
She added, “Talk about (the new baby and what to expect). You’re probably doing this already, but (in) the next few weeks, that’s what you need to focus on.”
Amy Rubinstein, one of the moms featured in our series, said she’s most concerned with jealousy between her son Max and the new baby.
Hartstein said, “That’s a very appropriate concern. So what you have to make sure is to carve out special time for your older child. Even though you’ll be exhausted, 10 minutes of up interrupted time where you follow their lead to play with trains, as he was interested in, or read a book together, that’s so important to really find that special and make them feel like they have that. Going to the grocery store with just your older child seems like a silly task, but can be terrific because they get all of you.”
“Early Show” co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez added, “I’ve heard a couple of people say that the older child will need even more attention than the baby because the baby weren’t know what he’s missing. Or she.”
Hartstein added, “And there could be some regression. So be prepared if your child is toilet trained, he might all of a sudden start having accidents. So if they were sucking their thumb and now they don’t, they might start doing that again because the baby does get a lot of attention. Change is hard. And when we get stressed out, we go back to old habits. So don’t get angry. Just let them know that it’s O.K., and it will go back to normal.”
Julie Griglio’s son, James, is almost 2 years old. She said she’s most concerned her son doesn’t understand what’s going on.
Griglio explained, “He’ll point to my belly and say, ‘Oh, baby.’ But then he’ll point to his belly and say baby. So one minute you think he gets it and the other minute you’re not sure that he gets it.”
Hartstein said Griglio’s son may not understand the baby’s arrival.
Hartstein said, “I think what you will probably see with younger kids is more acting out behaviorally. And I think it’s important to then let them have their feelings. It will be easy to get frustrated when you’re super tired about what your kids are doing if they’re like having a temper tantrum, but I think you have to be able to encourage them to use words and talk about how they’re feeling, because their feelings are valid. They don’t get it all the time. They just know that you aren’t all theirs. And that’s a real struggle.”
And how should children interact with their siblings without being too aggressive?
Hartstein recommended teaching children early to avoid issues.
“Get a baby doll that you can sit with them, get a real looking baby doll. And it can be the gift from the baby even in prepping. So practice that how do you hold the baby, how do you hold the head, what do we do? You don’t hit the baby, you don’t throw things at the baby. What are the rules? Set the rules of what the behavior expectation is early so that … so that they know what to do.”
For more with Rodriguez, Rubinstein and Griglio and how they plan to prepare their first-born children for their newborn siblings, click on the video below.