The arrival of a new baby is often the first real “crisis” in the life of a young child. There is no “right” time to tell the other children about another child coming. It all depends upon their ages, how long they may need to adjust to the news, and how comfortable you are discussing it with them at that time. It is important to tell them before you go to the hospital and before the baby is born.
Each child will react in his/her own way depending upon how he/she views this “new addition” to the family. Children may feel threatened and react with behavior unlearned. They return to soiling their clothes, acting helpless, speaking baby talk, or acting hostile.
It is best to help them view the situation positively. Encourage them to talk about some of the changes that may occur in the household with the arrival of the new baby. Encourage conversation from your children about their feelings. Allowing your children to help prepare for the new baby is often helpful. Perhaps taking them along on a shopping trip for baby items will help with their understanding and good feelings about the situation. Allow them to help around the house in new and different ways. They will usually appreciate the independence and enjoy their new feeling of importance.
After the baby comes, be sure to set aside time especially for your older children, so they won’t feel neglected. Young children need constant reassurance that they are loved.
The hospital will allow your children to visit the new baby whenever you feel is an appropriate time. If your baby goes to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for any amount of time, they will allow your child to come in but you will need to show a current immunization record. Many parents feel that involving the other children early with a new baby promotes family closeness and helps to avoid other possible problems with insecurity, jealousy, and rivalry. Please feel free to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have regarding the adjustments of your other children to your new baby.
There are sibling classes offered at the hospital for children ages four to nine. This is a 1.5-hour class that gives the opportunity to learn about what to expect before and after the birth of the new baby arrives. Register at www.prohealthcare.org/classes or call 262-928-2745.
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