“What About Me, Mommy?”

Expanding your family is great news to you and your spouse, but to your child, a new baby may bring about a lot of uncertainties. Some children may feel abandoned now that they are no longer the centre of attention, while others may relish the role of an older sibling.

In short, there is no way to tell how your child might react. However, as parents, you want things to run smoothly between your older child and his younger sibling. Therefore, it is essential for you to know what you can do to maintain the harmony between the siblings.

Planning Ahead

The sooner your older child knows about the arrival of his new sibling, the better. This can help him to adapt to the adjustments that may come. Ensure that before the baby arrives, you:

  • Inform him about his new sibling. The earlier you let him know, the more time you have to prepare him for the arrival of the new sibling. This will also be an excellent opportunity for you to talk to him and clarify his doubts and excite him about his new role.
  • Involve him in preparations to welcome the new baby. You may decorate the newborn’s room together and pick potential baby names together. Make him feel like part of the process.
  • Share your experience with him. Bring him along to your monthly check-ups. This gives him the opportunity to learn about and witness the progression of his new sibling. You would be surprised how the sound of the heartbeat can excite your child and change his feelings.
  • Explain to him what will happen when the new baby arrives. Let him know beforehand that you may be tired most of the time and the baby will most probably be the centre of attention because he requires extra care. Also, let him know that the baby will not do much at first except eat, sleep and cry. Giving him a realistic idea will reduce the shock when it happens.

The Arrival!

While you may have fully prepared your older child before the birth of your new baby, his behavior may change when the baby arrives. This is common, as children do not know how to control their feelings, especially when he sees family members paying more attention to the new baby. Don’t fret, as your child just needs some time to adjust.

  • Let him be Mummy’s Helper. Get him involved in the care of your new arrival. For instance, ask him to hand you the diapers while you are changing the baby or keep an eye on the baby whilst you use the bathroom. His involvement will make him think that he still matters to you.
  • Ask for his opinion. Ease him into the older brother or sister role by having your child help you make decisions about the baby. For example, when choosing an outfit for the new baby, let him decide on the colour of the clothing.
  • Listen to his feelings. Your older child will get frustrated at times, especially when you are unable to spend time with him (eg; you are nursing your baby but he wants to play cars with you). When a situation like that occurs, acknowledge his feelings. Let him know that you are aware of his disappointment and you will make it up to him later.
  • Spend one-on-one time. When your baby is sleeping, spend time with your older child. In fact, let your partner take care of the baby if you need to. Spending one-on-one time will make him feel special and loved.
  • Praise him. Shower your older child with praises each time you see him showing interest in helping you care for his younger sibling. Believe it or not, praises that comes with hugs and kisses can go a long way.

Don’t Push the Baby on Him

If your child does not want to get involved with the baby, do not be alarmed. It is common for him to be feeling this way. The “ignoring the baby” phase is usually temporary. Therefore, it is best not to force your child to be involved. He will come around in time.

Subscribe to our parenting newsletter.