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Preparing a Sibling For Baby

By Michelle Higgins

You may be excited about the thought of having another baby to complete your family, but your little darling first born may not quite feel comfortable with the idea of having a sibling! The spotlight that was on her all these years is about to shift and she may feel threatened. Help her make the transition a smooth ride and let her enjoy the experience of having a little brother/sister.

'You are gonna be Big brother!'

It is crucial to prepare a sibling for the arrival of a new baby, much in advance. Tell him he is soon going to have a playmate as soon as you begin to show. Address the baby as his little 'sister' or 'brother'. Involve him in all decision making about the new baby. You can even take him along to the doctor on your antenatal visits so that he can listen to your baby's heartbeats.

Decide whether you want him to attend the birth process.

Discuss his favorite baby names to christen his sibling. Ask him to decorate the nursery or take him along to shop for baby's wardrobe, tell him to select a toy for his new sister/brother.

If you plan to make any changes like shifting him to a new bedroom do it much before the baby arrives, so that he does not feel he is being displaced to make way for the newborn.

Patience please!

Don't be alarmed at the volley of questions your little one fires at you when you break the news to him. "Will it be a brother or sister?" "Where will he/she/it come from?" "Whom will he look like?" "Will you love him more than me?" and so on. Tackle his concern with patience and understanding.

Read out books about pregnancy, birth and babies to him. Bring out photo albums of his baby days and explain how he was as a baby and how much he has grown up. Read to him stories where main characters deal with sibling rivalry and mixed feelings.

I want some attention!

Even if she seems excited about the new baby, it is normal for an older sibling to feel neglected after baby has arrived. It may be a rude shock for her not to see a merry playmate but a baby that only sleeps, cries, feeds and pees all the time.

Even if you prepare a sibling for the arrival of a new baby adequately, sibling rivalry reaches its peak after baby's arrival. Don't be surprised if she gets back to thumb-sucking, throws temper tantrums, reverts to baby-talk or wets her pants. It may be attention-seeking behavior. Reassure her you still love her.

If she chooses to ignore the baby, don't force her to do otherwise. Let her take her own time.

We are family

Seek your older child's help to dress, bathe or feed the baby, and let him push her pram. Praise him for his efforts.

Spare some time to be alone with him daily. Do talk about something else other than the baby.

With a little help from you, soon you will be overwhelmed to watch big brother smothering his little sister with all his love and affection.

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