Preparing 1-2 year-olds for the new baby
Many transitions occur for children who become a sibling.
News of a new baby coming is an exciting time for families, but that excitement turns to the question of, “How will the sibling adjust?” Naturally, parents desire for their current child to embrace the new baby with matching excitement. Michigan State University Extension recommends that knowing how to approach a child, depending on their age, will help both parents and child create a smoother transition to a growing family.
It makes sense that the younger the child, the less they will understand about the entire concept of being pregnant and giving birth. They may also be confused that the baby will not be leaving once it comes home, but that it will become part of the family. According to www.healthychildren.org, children ages 1-2 should be talked to by their parents about the new baby coming and share their excitement; they can also read books about the new baby. Two year-olds love to help and parents can enlist them as their helper to make them feel important. For those nearing age three, MSU Extension suggests parents buy a doll and demonstrate the difference in speaking loudly and softly, holding nicely while sitting, and being gentle. By doing so, parents are teaching their often energetic, very loud and lack of boundaries child how to be more appropriate with an infant. At the same time, children are bonding with the infant, so it is important not to discourage their wild attempts at interacting but to guide and teach appropriateness. Parents should always make sure the infant is safe and not to assume the sibling is capable of always being appropriate. They can be very impulsive. They may want to share a toy or food that would be inappropriate for the infant. It is also very important for parents to make individual time for the sibling once the baby arrives. They too may be feeling a little left out and unsure with the parents added attention to the new infant. It is also a good time for the sibling to spend time with family members and do special activities together. Some children will regress and may demonstrate behavior more appropriate for a younger child or infant. Parents should not worry, but it is a cue that the sibling is having unspoken feelings about the changes taking place in the family due to the new addition. When a child demonstrates such behavior parents can make a point of paying attention to the child, spending time together, letting them know how much they are loved and just how important they are to them and to the whole family.