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Start Early Preparing Older Children for Birth of a New Sibling

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The nursery has a fresh coat of paint, the room is filled with toys and clothes ready for the arrival of the family's newest bundle of joy, and everyone in the family seems thrilled. However, a new baby brother or baby sister can be a stressful experience in the life of a young child. It is not uncommon for children to feel anger and jealousy toward their newest sibling.

Many children often feel threatened because they are no longer the center of attention in the family and need parental support in coping with the arrival of a new baby.

The following suggestions might help you prepare your child for the newest family member and perhaps will allow your child to understand his or her new role as a sibling:

- Talk about the new baby. Prepare your child for the baby by being forthright and upfront about the baby's arrival. As soon as you feel ready, begin telling your child about the pregnancy and how the result will be a new baby brother or sister.

- Involve your child. Make your child feel a part of the experience by asking him or her to help you shop for baby items, set up the nursery and choose names. Teach your child a simple lullaby to sing to the new baby.

- Prepare for the delivery and hospital stay. Explain to your child that you will need to have the baby at a hospital and prepare your child for this absence. Perhaps have your child help you pack the suitcase you will take with you, and encourage the child to include something that might remind you of him or her.

- Schedule special time with your child. With all of the excitement of a new baby, the older child often feels neglected. Schedule a routine time to share with your child like going to the park or going out for ice cream. Be certain to continue this ritual after the baby arrives.

- Recognize and acknowledge your child's feelings. Allow him or her to express negative emotions and affirm your child's feelings. Explain that it is alright to feel uncertain or uncomfortable about the new changes the baby will bring.

Preparing your child for the arrival of a new baby can make a smoother beginning for both the sibling and the new baby.


(The Cox web site is at )

c.2003 Cox News Service

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