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Eliminate Sibling Rivalry - How To Prepare a Sibling for a New Baby
My son was about to turn three years old when we found out we were expecting another baby. While my husband and I were thrilled, we were also concerned about how our son would take the news and, more importantly, the baby's arrival. We were determined to do as much as we could to make the transition both smooth and happy for him.
Talking About the New Baby
We obviously wanted our son to be excited about his new sibling, but we also didn't want to give him false impressions about what it would be like. At three years old, he was old enough to understand how his life was going to change. Sugarcoating the situation would only make him lose trust in us after the baby arrived and it wasn't as we had described.
We described how the baby would likely cry a lot, but we also explained to him why she would cry. We made sure that he understood that she wouldn't know much about the world (like he didn't know much when he was born), and that would make her scared. We also told him that he could help with that by soothing her and helping her learn about the world and feel more comfortable.
Books for New Siblings
Kids Help with New Babies
It's important for future older siblings to play a role in their sibling's life. Giving them a job, or something to take on as their responsibility can be very helpful in making them feel like a part of the process.
Once we had told our son what having a baby would be like, we decided to start talking to him about what his role as a big brother was going to be. One of the first things we did was ask him what kinds of things he thought he might be able to teach his sister. He had a few questions at first, about what she would already know. He was completely shocked that she wasn't going to know any letters of the alphabet, not even A!
Over the course of a few months, here is the list he determined would be most important to teach her:
- The "ABC song"
- How to color
- How to eat with a spoon
- How to say his name
- How to fight with light sabers
Despite our laughter at the last one, we encouraged him to continue to think of things he could teach her. He really loved that idea and took it upon himself to be the "big kid". Although that was several years ago, he still takes it upon himself to teach her things.
Kids Making Good Choices
Honesty is very important in this situation. After explaining to the older sibling what having a new baby will be like, as him or her to suggest ways to make the changes easier. For example, maybe he or she could help decide how the baby's room should be arranged. Or, he could help figure out where the diapers and wipes should be stored for easy access. The older the sibling, the more they can help!
You can also talk about situations, such as what to do when the baby cries or needs to be fed. Let him or her feel as though they are contributing to the entire family figuring out the new situation.
Give Them Their Own Space
To an older sibling, the baby seems to take over not only the parents, but also the house! Suddenly diapers and baby gear are everywhere, and his or her stuff gets moved to a lesser status in the house. Also, if you are childproofing, suddenly the older sibling's small items have to be picked up all the time.
To remedy this situation, give the big brother or sister a baby-free space to keep their toys and precious items, and to play. We bought a large plastic tub and labeled it the "No Baby Tub", and our son keeps anything in there that he doesn't want his little sister to play with or mess up. We let him decide what goes in there. We also allow him to play at the dining room table or at our kitchen bar because his sister can't reach any of his toys there.
If you keep the older sibling involved in the process, and remain as honest as possible, the transition will be smooth! You can all enjoy your new baby's arrival together.