A child who has had it all in terms of Mom and Dad's attention is likely to find herself lost when a new little one comes along. There are some easy ways to help your child deal with the transition. Having a new baby does not have to mean a crisis for the child or children you already have.
The first task should be honesty. You need to be up-front with all of your children before the new baby gets here. While many parents are afraid to share news of the new baby with the little ones, it is important that you do. Use age-appropriate language and let your child know that he will become a big brother soon. Try to give a timeframe your child can understand, such as "around Christmas" or "when summer comes."
Do not allow your child's first knowledge of the impending sibling be when she has noticed that Mommy's packing on the pounds. By preparing your child for the new baby, you will make the move much easier on everyone.
You should explain to your child what her or his new role in the family will be. There are plenty of books, such as the I'm a Big Sister and I'm a Big Brother books. You should be sure to allow your child to feel helpful. If he runs to grab a diaper for you, be sure to tell him what a big boy he is and that you are glad he is being helpful.
Once the baby is born, your little one will probably be excited even if still seems jealous. You should explain that you do not feel up to your normal self and that you will need to rest. Do not do more than you are physically capable of doing because if you do, then you will find that you will not have the energy for your baby or your older children.
If you cannot play with an older child, consider asking a friend or relative to do it or hiring a teenager to play with him or her for a couple of hours in the afternoon. It is important that your older child not think the baby is a burden, or you will only make her feel resentment. Do be sure to spend some alone time with each child everyday so that he will feel that you still value your time with him.
Be open to questions. A new baby is a miracle! It is one that even adults have a hard time understanding. You felt this amazement when your first baby joined the world, and you will feel it again. The whole process is foreign to your little one, and you should be willing to answer questions about it - and the new baby - when your child is ready to ask them.
If you prepare your child, he or she will come to accept the baby in time. It will take some getting used to. Even without jealousy, there will be an adjustment period as a new person changes the family's dynamics and plans. Still, with a bit of extra attention, the siblings will be playing together in no time.
By Julia Mercer