Tuesday Tips For Parents: When The New Baby Arrives

When a new baby makes an arrival into the house – things change for everyone including the older children. Schedules may change, what you make for dinner could change depending on sleep deprivation, and most importantly to the older child-the amount of love from Mom or Dad could change and all go to the baby.

You may see a change in behavior from your older child depending on age:
*Can’t find items they have long been getting themselves (toothbrush, pj’s, morning clothes)
*Will No longer sleep with the lights out or suddenly want to sleep with you.
*Have tantrums or have tantrums more often than usual
*Say things like – I hate the Baby – I don’t want a brother/sister – I’m the Only Baby – Send the baby back to the hospital – Can’t we build a house outback for the baby – or many others
*Act out with hitting, spitting, back talk, etc
*Getting into trouble at school

So, what do you do? You most likely feel very overwhelmed, sleep deprived, hungry, and like you can’t handle the schedule of another child and now you have a child who hate the new baby. Take a deep breath – this too shall pass with a few moments of extra time for your older child.

Chances are your older child just needs extra reassurance that Mom/Dad has plenty of love to go around to everyone. Regardless of age some things that may help:
*Ask Friends and Family Members to pay attention to the older child before making a huge deal out of the baby – The baby will not remember that she/he was not greeted first but the older child certainly may remember not coming first.
*Lots of I Love You’s – say plenty of times I love you and I am so glad to be your mom. 
*Ask any Family or Friends that are especially close to the older child to give lots of extra I Love You’s and I’m so glad that I have you as well.

Other Things that can be done:

Ages 3-4
*2’s can also fall into this age group and the 4 year olds who are may be in pre-school and have been for more than a few months may act more like the 5 – 6 year old group

This group may want to suddenly use a bottle again when they have been using a sippy cup without incident – they my try to nurse again – they want you to do everything for them when they have been wanting some independence.
Meet the child – say something like it looks like you want to be a baby again – how about you come be the baby – sit and hold the child like a baby and allow googoogaga’s and laugh with the child. It is OK to be silly with the child. This will allow the child to have a few minutes of your time and move back to his/her age.

Bedtime routines are many times shortened and changed – maybe dad helps the older child with bedtime more now. Make sure dad says things like – I am so glad that I am the one who gets to help you with bedtime. If the child says things like – I’m not I liked it when mom did it – address the feelings with things like – Hey I know I am not as good as mom but maybe you can help me get better. Will you show me how it is done? Then as Mom who always did it – take a few minutes to walk in – snuggle – say I Love You and say Thank You for helping Dad to learn.

Ages 5-6
This age group is a little more independent and a little more understanding than the younger ones. If the baby spits up – it is easier to explain that the baby did not do it on purpose. As the baby gets older – if the older child’s books or toys are broken or torn it is easy to help them put toys where the baby can’t get them or replace a torn book.

Huge to this age group is some alone time – even if it is just to the grocery store while someone else watches the baby whenever possible. A playdate with mom – even if only in the living room while the baby is taking a nap.

They love to feel a part and help as well – ask the child to help by singing the baby a song while you change a diaper – ask the child to read a book to the baby – let the older child pick out the clothes or shoes for the day. Just be careful to not the older child as a babysitter – this makes the child even more resentful.

As much balance between having the child to help and giving some along time and hugs makes life more peaceful and fulfilling for all.

Ages 7 – 9
It is very difficult to get this age group to open up and talk – they are more likely to be getting into trouble with backtalk, defiance of simple rules, etc but when you ask what are you feeling – answer is nothing – how was your day – answer is fine. So what do you do?

Ask questions like – what was the best part of your day today? What was the worst part of your day? Did your teacher give you any positive comments today? The point is to ask questions that require something other than fine as an answer be it about school, friends at school, favorite activity, etc. Along the same lines of conversation – it is OK to ask them to explain what they liked about life before the baby – allow them to answer and have an understanding response. Then ask what they like about life with the baby – if you get nothing then ask leading questions such as does it make you feel important to be a big brother/sister, are you excited to have someone to teach how to….(insert whatever that child likes to do).

Best time to get answers – bedtime when you are snuggling with your child, sitting on the couch just the two of you because someone else is watching the baby or the baby is asleep. It is just fine to let the child know – hey I think this is really hard too but I know you and me can get through this together. We just need to take lots of deep breaths together.

How to Discipline?
The tough question – 
The child pokes the baby – do I send him/her to the room, put in time out???

This is a great opportunity to say I cannot let you poke (hit, etc) the baby because it hurts the baby. Tell me why you don’t really like the baby right now. Then discuss ways to deal with the feelings – even if they have said something like I don’t’ want the baby here anymore – laugh and say well we could just build a house for outside and maybe we could even put Uncle Sam out there too.

It is OK to tell them that it is completely normal to be frustrated with the baby. If you had siblings you can let them know that you got frustrated with your siblings but still loved them very much and it got better every day.

It is important to validate their feelings so they realize that you do understand.

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