Making a New Experience Easier
Making a New Experience Easier
Bringing a new baby into the family is cause for celebration. However, introducing a new baby to an only child can often be a very stressful new experience. There are many ways in which you can make the transition smoother for parent and child alike.
Leading Family Therapist Diane Levy says “A toddler or preschooler needs to know that a baby is growing in mummy’s tummy. The reason that she needs to know is because everyone else is talking about it, so it would be common courtesy to let her in on it.”
Children can have very different reactions when their parents tell them they are going to have a new baby sister or brother. Some children are excited, others are nervous about having to share their parent with another child. Bonding to the expected arrival needs to start as soon as possible. Having the child create cards and gifts for the new baby prior to the birth can help with bonding. Having the child meet the baby as soon as possible after birth can also help the bonding process
Mrs Levy says “we should avoid behaving as if a tragedy that requires compensation has befallen our child since she became a big sibling. Try not to set up expectations for your toddler or pre-schooler that there will be a present every time from the baby or that every well-wisher will come armed with gifts. I find that setting up an older sibling to believe that it is going to be wonderful to have a new sibling almost can be guaranteed to be a let-down when a new-born arrives. We are better off telling a child what will be happening to them while Mum is away rather than instructing them how they will feel when the new-born arrives.”
Second time mother Jane Millard said “feeding times were the worst times for me. I was constantly taking baby off the breast to rescue toddler from danger – baby would get wind and be agitated at feeding time knowing it would be disrupted. Eventually I changed to bottle feeding because it was quick and toddler was OK for that shorter period of time.” However Mrs Cunningham did not experience jealously at all from her first born. She actually found that her first born was very attentive to his new baby sister “I remember he was in awe of his little sister and would tell everyone he could about her. They now play together very happily and he is very protective of her, he also loves to teach her new things, like how to walk down stairs.”
Although Mrs Millard had a smooth transition some mothers can find it difficult. It is important that you let your child hold the new baby so that they know the baby is real. You can teach your child how to do this properly before the birth by buying a doll close to the size of a newborn. If your child is too young to do this, let them sit on the bed with you while you hold the baby and let them hold the baby’s hand or rub the baby’s foot. This will help to build a connection with the new person in their life.
Once home, let the child help with the jobs associated with a baby such as changing nappies, pushing the pram and dressing the baby. This will help to create trust between yourself and the child as well as helping to foster feelings of acceptance and affection between your child and the baby.
Even if your child was excited about the new sibling while you were pregnant the excitement may go away and your child could become clingy towards you. Ensure that they know they are loved and make time to spend with just the two of you during the day, maybe while the new baby is napping. Jealousy and resentment are normal emotions. Acknowledge your child's feelings and provide him/her with appropriate ways to express them.
For more information you may wish to contact one of the below organisations
• Your own local Tamariki Ora /Well Child
• National Tamariki Ora/ WellChild www.wellchild.org.nz Dr Marguerite Dalton National Tamariki Ora / WellChild Coordinator mob: 0274 824 729
• PAFT (Parents as First Teachers)
Phone: (04) 463 8000 email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Plunket National Office Phone: +64 4 471-0177
• Barnardos Tel 09 524 9175 • Fax 09 524 9131
• SKIP (Strategies with Kids – Information for Parents) email: email@example.com - www.msd.govt.nz
• Families Commission Wellington office Phone: 04 917 7040 Fax: 04 917 7059