Ways Older Siblings Can Get Involved with a New Baby
Having a new baby has a significant impact on all family members. For parents, it not only increases their responsibility, but also leaves them with less time to attend to other matters.
But one person who is impacted the most by the arrival of a baby is the older sibling. Till then, they were the center of attention. All the activities of the parents were planned, keeping in mind the needs of the child. But suddenly, the shift focuses to this other person. This sudden change can naturally leave the older sibling with feelings of jealousy, sadness, and anger.
Thus, helping older siblings cope with the new baby should be the primary focus of the parents.
How to Help Older Siblings Get Involved with a New Baby?
How the older siblings get involved with a new baby depends on the age of the older child. If the child is slightly older, they may be eager to meet the new baby. But if there is not much age difference between the two children, then the older child is more likely to be confused by the latest developments at home. Preparing your child for a new sibling is the best way to help them adjust to the new situation at home.
Children 2 years and younger: Helping a 2-year-old adjust to a new baby is rather easy when compared to older siblings. Since they do not understand the changes in the family, you should talk to them about the new baby. You can even show a picture book with a mother, father, and children to make them understand the concept.
Children 3 to 5 years: Preparing a 4-year-old for a new baby can be a little tricky as the concept of jealousy might take over. Moreover, children of this age are still attached to the parents. Parents can explain to them about the baby and when he/she might come.
You can get the child involved by taking them to go baby shopping and decorating the baby’s nursery. You can show them pictures of other families and make them understand the concept. You can even give them a doll to cuddle, which provides them with a feeling of how the baby will be. Getting to know the feeling of the baby beforehand will help them to adjust to the new environment faster.
Children above 5 years: Though children over five years old and attend school are not so attached to their parents, they might still feel jealous. They might even try to harm the baby when you give more attention to him/her. The best way to deal with this situation is to get them involved in looking after the baby.
You can ask the older child to help you in bathing the baby and looking after the baby when you are not around. If the child is slightly older, you can even ask him/her to help you with changing the diaper and putting the baby to sleep. Once they feel involved, they are less likely to feel jealous of the little one.
General Tips for Dealing with Older Siblings
* Praise the older child when he/she behaves nicely with the younger sibling. Praising and appreciating their actions will make them happy and content.
* If the older child misbehaves to get your attention, try to ignore it. This way, the child will look for more positive ways to get your attention.
* Sometimes the older child might act younger than his age like peeing in bed or not eating on their own. These are ways of showing their stress. In such a situation, you should be patient and deal with the situation calmly.
* Always keep an eye on the older child when he/she deals with the younger one. Sometimes out of frustration or jealousy, they might harm the baby.
* While breastfeeding the baby, you should keep the older child engaged with some games or activities. If the child is curious about the whole thing, you can explain to the child what you are doing.
Once you have a younger baby, you should never neglect the needs and wants of the older sibling. Ignoring the older child can make them feel left out and jealous. Try to spend quality time with them. In fact, you should spend more time with the older sibling as the younger one is too small to understand anything.
You can ask your partner or a friend to take care of the baby while you spend some time with the older child. This way, the child will feel involved and may not have a problem adjusting to the new environment.