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Send that Baby Back! Bringing the New Baby Home

“Send him back”, “I love the baby”, “Can I hold her?” When you bring a new baby home, you never quite know what you will hear from your older child. Some children seem to thrive in their new role as the “Big Brother or Sister” while others do not want to play the part. They want diapers, bottles and a crib for themselves, even though they are past all that (or so you thought).

Let’s look at this through your child’s eyes: You come into the world and instantly become the focus of mom and dad’s world. Soon, doting grandparents, family and friends all fall in love as well – you are the centre of the universe! You have people at your beckoned call, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. What’s not to love about this life? Then it happens! Mom and dad bring a baby into the house. When they told you about the baby, you had no idea that it was going to stay forever, cry so much, or take so much time and attention away from you. What has happened to your perfect life?

Parents can help children adjust to the changes that a baby will bring to the family.

Some food for thought:

  • Spend individual and special time with your child.
  • Have realistic ideas and expectations of everyone. Take it slow. There will be an adjustment period.
  • Allow your child his/her feelings. All feelings are OK; it’s the behaviour that is sometimes not. Comments like “it is hard to have a baby in the house”, or “you miss being the only one” will validate a child’s feelings and help them to accept the inevitable….that the baby is staying.
  • Let your child take the lead in how much involvement they want with the baby. Invite your older child in and allow them to decide if, when and how they want to be engaged with the baby.
  • Be patient. It takes time to build relationships.
  • Make sure your child knows you love him no matter what.
  • Young children’s brains are very much under construction. In fact, it is now thought that full brain development is not reached until the mid-20’s. Children are learning how to identify and express their feelings, and certainly a new baby in the house can greatly tax that small, immature brain.

With some support, time and attention from grownups, siblings will not only learn to get along, but will probably grow to really like each other.