Family planning is important, especially when deciding when to have a second or third child. Parent educators suggest that parents wait about eighteen to twenty-four months before having another child. Spacing out your kids will allow you to adjust to being first-time parents and learn the temperament of your first child. Of course, families come in all shapes and sizes: some parents may space their children four to five years apart, and some siblings might only be a year apart. When families have a toddler and another baby on the way, it can be a stressful situation for parents to help their child adjust to having a new sibling. Here are a few things that parents can do to help their older child(ren) prepare.
How Do I Help My Child Adjust to a New Baby?
While all your attention may be on having a healthy pregnancy, you should also take the time to talk to your child(ren) about the new baby on the way. Have them feel the kicks and talk to the baby. When it’s time for birth, explain that the new baby will be coming home soon. If possible, bring the child to the hospital when it’s time to bring their new sibling home. This will make them feel like a part of this big family event.
What If My Child is Acting Jealous of the New Baby?
Even though your toddler is excited to have a new sibling, there will be times when they are jealous and envious of the attention the new baby is getting. Be prepared to manage through tantrums. This is natural as the toddler has been used to receiving all of the attention up until this point. The first few months are usually the hardest, but most toddlers begin to accept the new baby around month seven.
If your older child(ren) does something mean, don’t scold them. Instead, acknowledge their behavior and feelings. Include the toddler in daily activities with the new baby. For example, if the baby takes a bottle, the toddler can help feed the baby by holding the bottle, with your supervision of course. Let your older child pick out the book to read at night or the song to sing to the new sibling. Last but not least, be sure to always make some one-on-one time with your older child(ren). If jealousy continues to be pervasive, get some advice from your pediatrician.
If you’d like to read more blogs on nutrition, parenting, and community happenings, like Hospitality Health ER’s Facebook Page.