Five Tips to Prepare Your Child for a New Baby

Making the leap from a family of three to a family of four, or more, can be daunting for parents. You may be worried about how you will cope with the sleepless nights now that you have a toddler to look after as well. Or how, in the midst of those first few weeks, you will find the energy and time to properly care for your existing child, considering that last time you struggled to find the time to feed yourself.

Your biggest worry though, the one that keeps you awake at night, is how your first child will feel when the new baby arrives. How can you avoid feelings of resentment building up, or your eldest feeling left out? What steps can you take to lay the foundations for a loving and respectful sibling relationship? Here are five tips to prepare your child for a new baby:

  1. Involvement – the first way to stop your child feeling left out is to actively involve him. This could include taking your child to midwife appointments, if practical, and accompanying you to antenatal scans. You could use a pregnancy week by week book to research the baby’s development together each week. Towards the end of the pregnancy, you may like to get your child involved in choosing items for the nursery. The level of involvement will depend on your child’s age.
  2. Bonding – bonding with your bump is a great way to build a good relationship between siblings. Not only will it help him adjust to the idea of a sibling, it will help the baby to recognise his voice after the birth. Ask him to read or talk to the bump for a few minutes each day. If the baby has an active period during the day, you could try it then so that your child can feel the baby’s kicks and movements responding to his voice.
  3. Communication – your child is likely to have a lot of questions about the new baby, including questions like “but how did it get in your tummy?” and, “how will it get out?”. Children are naturally inquisitive and love learning new things. Try to answer the questions as honestly as you can, or you could research it together using age-appropriate books if you prefer.
  4. Hospital – if you are planning to give birth in the hospital, the separation from you will be difficult for your child. Make sure your child will be looked after by someone he trusts and enjoys spending time with. Prepare him for the separation, and explain that they will be able to visit as soon as possible. Make sure your partner stays in contact with your child throughout the birth, to keep reassuring him that you and baby are both ok. Some children worry about their mother’s safety during childbirth, and this can be quite stressful for them.
  5. Caring – your child may not yet be old enough to help look after the baby, but they could help you while you look after the baby. Giving your child responsibilities, such as getting the baby wipes or massage oil, can be a great way to involve your child in the baby care. You could also buy your child a doll to take care of while you are busy with the baby. You will find that he copies what you are doing, and will probably sit quietly next to you, caring for his doll as you care for the baby. For a little while at least!

If you think your oldest child is feeling jealous and resentful, try to spend some quality time with him away from the baby. Sometimes all it can take is an hour of uninterrupted play for your child to feel happy and ready to welcome the new baby again. Using a sling, especially one that allows for breastfeeding, can be a lifesaver when you have an older child. You’ll have your hands free to play with your child, and your baby will be happy feeding or sleeping in the sling.

Do you have any tips for introducing a new baby to an existing child?

Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2017. All rights reserved.

7 Tips to Avoid Sibling Rivalry

If you have any siblings of your own, you’ll know first hand that the sibling relationship is a complex, dynamic roller coaster. It’s a love hate relationship, especially during childhood. Children battle it out for independence, attention and love. You may have noticed just how volatile this relationship can be by observing your own children. From the tender kisses, cuddles and care they show for another one minute, to the shouting, fighting and cruelty they can inflict the next. As a parent, it can be frustrating to watch this relationship unfold. Why can’t they just get along?

Sibling rivalry is a part of life, and there’s not much you can do to prevent it. There are, however, things you can do to minimize the fall out and help your children to heal that oh-so-important relationship. Here are seven tips to cope with sibling rivalry:

  1. Leave them to it

It’s only natural to want to step in and sort your children’s problems out for them, but it could actually be doing more harm than good. Childhood conflict teaches children important life skills such as problem solving, negotiation and self control. By resolving conflict for your children, you rob them of the opportunity to develop these skills. Try to take a back seat and simple observe how your children reach a peace agreement. If you feel you need to get involved, try asking questions rather than giving orders. You may find they are able to work the problem out themselves with your assistance. If violence is involved, however, you must step in and firmly explain that you will not allow them to hurt each other.

  1. Give them space

Just as you may sometimes need a little breather from your partner, your kids may occasionally benefit from some time spent apart to cool down. If the argument doesn’t seem to be coming to an end, try separating your children for a short while. Think of fun and engaging activities for each child that will take their minds of the disagreement.

  1. Avoid blame

Try not to ask who started it, or automatically blame the older child because you think they ‘should know better’. It doesn’t really matter who started it or who said what, what matters is that you can restore peace to your family. Instead of focusing on one child, speak to both children, even if one is a baby. Though the baby may not understand what you’re saying, your older child will understand that they are both being treated equally. Sibling resentment can come from a perceived favoritism, and addressing both children and avoiding blame will help to avoid that.

  1. One on one

As a parent, your free time is already limited. If you’re trying to juggle work, family and social commitments, you may sometimes feel more than a little burnt out. You might struggle to find the hours, but some quality one on one time with you could be all your children need to feel a little less jealous of each other. It doesn’t have to be much, it could be an uninterrupted bedtime stories session, a trip to the park or a fun craft activity to do at home. Tailor the activity to your child and choose something you know will be a hit. It can be hard to find this time, especially if you have a baby at home, but it will be worth it when you see how much your child enjoys the quality time spent with you.

  1. Encourage involvement

Until your youngest child is a toddler striving for independence, you could let your older child make some decisions for them. Babies require a lot of attention, and it’s all too common for older siblings to feel left out. Getting your older child involved can help to prevent sibling rivalry, and encourage your older child to bond with the baby. Let your older child pick out which sleep suit the baby should wear, which toy the baby might like to play with in the car and which story you should read at bedtime.

  1. Avoid comparisons

It’s almost impossible to resist the urge to compare your children. After all, it can be surprising just how different siblings can be. You may compare how often they cried as babies, the age they started walking and, later, their academic achievements. This isn’t nice for your kids to hear, and it sets the example that your children are competing with each other. Avoid comparisons altogether and instead celebrate your children as individuals.

  1. Remember the good times

It’s never nice to be woken by the sound of world war three breaking out in your house. It can be upsetting to see the two people you love most in the world be so heartless towards each other. You may find yourself wondering what you’ve done wrong. Stop. You haven’t done anything wrong, sibling rivalry is an unavoidable part of life. When they’re fighting, it seems like they always fight, but when they’re loving and kind to each other, you think you’re doing a good job. You are doing a good job. Remember those loving moments and take photos as proof that they exist.

Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.

5 Things to Try if Your Firstborn Rejects The New Baby

For most parents, one reason for having another baby is to give their firstborn a sibling. You imagine them playing together as kids, sharing secrets as teenagers and leaning on each other as they grow old. Perhaps you use your own sibling relationships as inspiration, imagining the same for your child.

Unfortunately, not all kids take to being an older sibling straight away. Suddenly having to share your parents, your love and the attention that was once 100% focused on you can come as quite a shock. Don’t be disheartened if your firstborn isn’t immediately smitten with the new baby, it will come with time. In the meantime, try the following to encourage them to bond:

  1. One-on-one time

It’s important to think about how the new baby’s arrival is making your firstborn feel. Imagine if your partner suddenly invited a new woman to live in your home, he spent all his time with her and expected you to be thankful that she was there. You’d feel pretty left out, wouldn’t you? Maybe even a little jealous? Well, your firstborn is feeling all of that and probably doesn’t have the skills to voice those complex feelings just yet. What your firstborn really misses is you. Before the new baby came along, your first child enjoyed plenty of one-on-one time with you, but now your energy is focused on the new baby.

Try to carve out some one-on-one time to help your firstborn feel appreciated again. It won’t be easy when you’re juggling the needs of a newborn, but you should be able to snatch at least some time each day to focus on your oldest kid. During nap times, focus your efforts on your firstborn. Let him choose what you do and just follow his lead.

  1. Perfect the multitask

Having a child is a great opportunity to learn to multitask, having two children leaves you with no other options. Babies spend a lot of time feeding, sleeping and being cuddled. This will take up a lot of your day, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything else. Investing in a sling or wrap will leave your hands free to play games with your firstborn. The baby will sleep happily in the sling, safely tucked into your body, and your firstborn will get to enjoy having your attention. You’ll get to enjoy the superpower of taking care of two kids at once and totally nailing it, so everybody wins.

  1. Accept the difficult emotions

It’s not easy to hear your firstborn say unkind or hateful things about the new baby, but it is important not to dismiss those feelings. In fact, you need to actively accept these difficult emotions of your older child in order to help him process them. You can gently agree that sometimes having a younger sibling sucks. They do spend a lot of time feeding, they do make you late for school with their badly timed explosive poops and they do cry a lot late at night. Those things suck and there’s nothing wrong with saying so. Help your child to understand his emotions by talking openly about his feelings.

  1. Get the older child involved

No matter how old your firstborn is, you can get him involved in helping out with the new baby. A young toddler can pass diapers and wipes when necessary and an older child can help with cuddles and reassurance when the baby cries. As the mom to a new baby, you spend a lot of time caring for the baby, getting your firstborn involved can help show him that he has an important part to play as well. Make sure you thank him each and every time he helps out and make sure the baby thanks him too. Keep telling him what a great big brother he is and how lucky the baby is to have such a helpful brother around to look after him.

  1. Be positive

Sometimes, without even realizing it, parents can be part of the problem when a firstborn rejects the new baby. Think carefully about how you talk about being a big brother. Do you make it sound like a positive or negative thing for your firstborn? Many parents unwittingly make being an older sibling seem rubbish simply by the things they say. “You’re too old for that.” “You should know better.” “He’s just a baby!”. Suddenly, being a big brother doesn’t seem so fun, does it? Be mindful about how you talk about the new baby and what it means to be a big brother. Make sure the emphasis is on fun and love, not responsibility and getting told off.

It might take a little while, but if you adopt the techniques above you should notice a change in your firstborn’s attitude. Not only will this improve your relationship with him, it will also help to create a bond between your children.

How did you handle this situation and did it work?

Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.