Q&A: Adjusting to a new sibling

Question:

How can we help our two-year-old adjust to having a new baby sister? He whines and cries for Mummy (me) all the time, and lately he’s been misbehaving as a way of getting our attention. Is this normal?

Answer: Yes, it’s perfectly normal. Your older child has been the centre of attention in your family. Now a screaming, crying little stranger has suddenly appeared on the scene and upset his world, demanding huge amounts of your time and attention. It’s only natural that he feels a bit put out.

There are several strategies you can adopt to smooth the transition. First, it’s important for Dad to take an active, involved role with both toddler and baby. When you’re nursing or tending the infant, your husband could engage the older child in some kind of fun one-on-one activity, giving the boy his full attention. On the other side of the coin, Dad could give you frequent breaks by changing, rocking, burping, and generally helping care for the baby whenever possible. That will enable you to also spend some special time with your toddler each day.

Many parents notice some regressive behaviour on the part of their toddler after a new baby arrives. For example, the child may try to climb into the infant’s crib or suddenly forget his potty training skills. One way to counter this is to affirm your toddler for his “grown-up” capabilities and point out some of the advantages of being older. You might say something like, “You’re such a big boy now! You can go for a walk and talk. The baby is too little to do that.” Your older child needs to be reassured that he’s special and unique. So let him know that you love him and praise him generously when he’s helpful or kind toward the baby.

© 2018 Focus on the Family.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

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