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Preparing Your Child for a New Sibling


The arrival of a new baby can cause lots of sudden change in a family. Before the baby is born, parents typically spend a lot of attention and energy on preparations. After the baby arrives, much of the family's attention involves meeting the newborn's basic needs.

All this change can be hard for older siblings to handle. It's not uncommon for an older sibling to resent the newborn for grabbing the spotlight and to react to all this upheaval by acting out.

There are steps you can take to prepare your child for all this change. By discussing the pregnancy in terms that make sense to your child, taking care of some logistics, and including your child in the care of the newborn, you can make the transition a little easier for the entire family.

During Pregnancy
There is no one right or wrong way to tell your child about the new baby. There isn't any one right time to have that discussion, though the longer you give him or her to adjust to the concept, the better.

When you're discussing the pregnancy with your child, you may want to let your own comfort level and your child's maturity level steer the way.

It's a good idea to explain the pregnancy on your child's terms. If your child is in preschool, for example, he or she may not grasp concepts of time, so it may not mean much if you tell your child that the baby will arrive in 9 months. It may be more useful if you explain that the baby will arrive in a particular season, such as winter, when it's cold outside.

How do you know how much detail to provide? Let your child's questions be your guide. For example, a 4-year-old child may ask: "Where do babies come from?" Despite how it sounds, the child may not be asking you to explain sex. The child may just want to know where, literally, the baby comes from. It may be enough to say: "The baby comes from the uterus, which is inside the mother's belly." If your child wants to know more, he or she will ask.
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