Having a first baby is exciting. Having a second baby and introducing them to the sibling brings its own set of stresses for some. How will the sibling respond? How best to introduce the baby to the family?
Jade Elliott spoke with Peter Lindgren, pediatrician, Intermountain Healthcare, to learn about the best ways to introduce a new baby to the family on this episode of hte Baby Your Baby Podcast.
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“It’s an adventure, and perfectly normal for parents to feel anxious about having another baby,” said Lindgren.. “My sister’s first response when I came home from the hospital was, ‘Send him back.’ But there also are many more stories of children who adore their new baby sibling, and often reflect the care and love that they have received.”
A new baby changes the family’s structure. Siblings might respond with feelings of betrayal or that they’ve been replaced or a regression in behavior. Mothers often experience a change in their relationship with an older child. Many fathers take on a more important role with older children, particularly as mothers feed a newborn.
There is no one recipe for how to introduce baby to his or her siblings. But here are some tips on how you can help children – and yourselves – through change:
– Before the baby is born, talk to your children about having a new sibling. For children under 2 years, it’s helpful to wait until the baby is closer to delivery (around 30 weeks of pregnancy).
– Read books together, such as “Peter’s Chair” by Ezra Jack Keats and “I’m a Big Brother/Sister” xx by Joanna Cole.
– Make caring for baby a team sport by including older siblings.
Reassure and teach
– Play it cool, but don’t be afraid to show your feelings. Children learn to navigate the world by watching their parents.
– Acting out is normal. Recognize the behaviors that you want to see.
– Jealousy can’t be avoided. Reassure, spend time with, hug, and make physical contact with older siblings.
– Keep your sense of humor!
More to think about
– Showering siblings with gifts is likely to make them feel like something really ominous is going on.
– Some wonder if the newborn should give a gift to the older sibling. Consider your older child’s personality before deciding.
Be Kind to Yourself
It’s okay to let your child respond in whatever way they are going to respond. Give them time to process their feelings, and yourself time to find your family’s new equilibrium. Remember that you get to do all of this in a sleep-deprived state, while recovering from a physically and emotionally intense experience. Above all, be kind to each other and yourselves.
For more information, please visit IntermoutainHealthcare.org.
The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.