Contributed by Chelsea Wicks, M.D.
All children react differently to the welcoming of a new sibling. Toddlers can often become resentful and regress and older children may act out with defiance or other unfavorable behaviors. Here are a few tips to help your child adjust to this family change.
- Prepare your child from the start for upcoming changes.
- Share all the nuances of having a new baby in the house- crying at night, lots of diaper changes, frequent feedings, etc. Though the baby is going to require a lot of attention, reassure your child that you will still have time for them and your love for them will never change.
- Allow your child to be part of the preparations.
- Perhaps your child can be part of helping to pick out the furniture for the baby’s room, or just be able to pick out some of the new clothes. This will allow them to feel like they are part of the process, rather than being left out.
- Once baby arrives, give them special tasks to help care for the baby.
- Depending on your child’s age, you could ask them to grab the diapers and wipes while changing the baby, or have them prepare the bottle. Again, this allows them to feel involved and helpful rather than replaced.
- Avoid big changes during the time of baby’s arrival.
- Children need consistency so when one big change is occurring it can be overwhelming for them to accept another one. Avoid trying to potty train, change nap schedules or start a new daycare during this time. Allow them to work through one thing at a time so they aren’t too overwhelmed.
Some children may become angry and can even become aggressive towards their parents or the new baby. Obviously, this is something that needs to be addressed quickly before it escalates or someone gets hurt. If there are behaviors that you are worried about or are having a hard time controlling, speak with your child’s medical provider for further advice.