After the baby is born
Dr. Susan Bartell
- Speak to your child
on the phone or in person as soon as possible after the baby is
- Have a gift from
the baby for your older child when she comes to the hospital to
see you and the baby.
- Have the baby in the
bassinet when your older child comes to the hospital so he doesn't
have to compete with the baby in giving mom hugs and kisses.
- Allow your child as
much time as she needs to warm up to the baby-it may take hours,
days or even weeks.
- Encourage your child
to express both positive and negative feelings towards the baby
and don't make her feel guilty about the negative ones. It's okay
(even healthy) to feel and talk about angry, hurt or confused
- Give your older child
as much positive attention as possible. This is easy during the
early months when the baby isn't too demanding. It becomes more
difficult as the baby gets older and becomes more engaging (e.g.
smiling, cooing, crawling etc.) This is the time to make the extra
effort with your older child.
- Don't expect your child
to start or achieve new milestones in the period following the
birth (e.g. toileting, moving to a new bed), although some children
are able to continue as usual.
- After a new baby is
born, some older siblings may regress with milestones they have
already achieved (toileting accidents, waking up at night, difficulty
separating from you, thumb sucking, wanting a bottle etc.) This
is typical and usually dissipates after the baby has been around
- Emphasize all the "grown-up"
things your older child can do that the baby can't do. Pay particular
attention to the ones that are most appealing to him (e.g. eating
cookies, watching TV, playing at the playground) Never leave a
toddler alone with a new baby (even if she seems to like the baby.)
Don't leave an older child either until you are absolutely sure
he doesn't harbor any resentful feelings about the baby's arrival.
A young child will typically have difficulty expressing herself
verbally and may resort to hurting the baby. She will feel very
guilty after doing it.
- Furthermore, if she
sees that you are angry with her, it will cause her to resent
the baby even more. This can easily be avoided by supervising
all interactions between the two children and by taking your older
child with you when you need to leave the room.
- Have some inexpensive
gifts on hand to give your child when the baby has been given
"too many presents."
- Praise your older child
for helping you with the baby (bringing diapers, holding the bottle
etc.). He can also "help" by showing picture books to the baby.
But it's important not to make a child feel guilty for not participating.
- Look for loving moments,
such as when your older child kisses or hugs the baby. Tell him
how much the baby loves his hugs and kisses. Encourage such positive
interactions by keeping a camera handy and catching them on film.
Be sure to tell your older child often how much the baby loves
her, smiles for her, and cries when she leaves. Tell her that
the baby thinks she's a wonderful big sister. This may sound silly
to you because you know that a newborn is not capable of such
complex reactions. But a young child (and even an older one) will
believe it and it will foster love from the older child towards
the younger one. When the baby is old enough to really respond
to an older sibling, it will hopefully be with the same warmth
she has been receiving.
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the baby is born
Dr. Susan Bartell
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