Bringing home a new baby is an exciting and joyous event for parents but can generate mixed emotions and uncertainty in older siblings. It is not unusual for children to worry that they are being replaced or that their parents no longer love them. The attention lavished on a new baby by parents, grandparents and visitors can make siblings feel even further pushed aside.There are many things parents can do to help older children adjust so that things go more smoothly when the baby arrives.
Focus on your older children. Provide lots of hugs and reassurance. Let dad or visiting grandparents take care of the baby while you spend some one-on-one time with your older child; try to make this a daily habit. When baby is sleeping, create special family moments that allow your older child to enjoy some unshared time with dad and mom.
Encourage grandparents and close friends to include a small Big Brother or Big Sister gift with baby gifts. Make your older child’s change in status an equal cause for celebration. You might let your older child plan a party to welcome the baby, making sure to include all your child’s favorite treats and presents for the big brother or sister.
Be patient with regressive behavior. Siblings will be exploring and testing. Toddlers in particular may mimic infant behavior. A return to thumb sucking or accidents in recently potty trained children is not uncommon. Recognize your child’s feelings and use positive reinforcement to encourage age-appropriate behavior.
Build your older child’s self esteem by commenting on things she or he can do and telling other people how helpful your son or daughter is when you know your child can hear you.