Advice for Gwen & Gavin: Introducing Your New Baby to an Older Sibling
Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale must be over the moon about the arrival of their new son, Zuma Nesta Rock. While the second-time parents know their baby basics, this time around, they’ll need to help big brother Kingston James McGregor, 2, adjust to life as a sibling. To help the family work through any rivalry issues between Kingston and Zuma, we consulted baby care experts Dr. William Sears, author of more than 30 parenting books, including The Baby Book, and Jennifer Waldburger, co-author of The Sleepeasy Solution.
Click Continue Reading for six great tips from our experts!
- Make friends before birth. Play show and tell with the older sibling. "When the baby stars kicking in the womb, let the child pat and talk to the baby," says Dr. Sears. "Pregnancy is an abstract idea for most kids, so show them pictures of your more advanced sonograms, to help them understand what’s going on," adds Jennifer. Most importantly, make the experience fun for everyone. "You market to the older child what they’re going to gain more than what they’re going to lose," Dr. Sears says.
- Replay your child’s babyhood. Sit down and page through your elder child’s baby book, and show him or her images from after birth, coming home, nursing and diaper changes. "Replay what the sibling went through, so that he or she knows what to expect," says Dr. Sears. Jennifer suggests starting a new book, too, about becoming an older sibling, so children have a better sense of what will be changing when baby comes home.
- Present a gift to the sibling. Offer a gift to your child — maybe a baby doll, teddy bear or stuffed animal — which gives the him or her an opportunity to feel as though he or she has a baby, too. And a note to friends: When visiting those with a newborn, remember to bring a little something for the sibling so he or she doesn’t feel left out.
- Timeshare. "What bothers most siblings is that they don’t want to share their parents with the new baby," says Dr. Sears. "They’re preoccupied with what they’ve lost." Because of this, when the sibling loses a lot of mom time, he or she needs to gain more dad time, so there’s no "net loss." Jennifer also recommends dads have a temporary sleep-over with the older sibling throughout the first week after birth. "It may feel to them that people are up at night, and that the baby is in mom and dad’s room and they’re all alone," she says. Having a parent in bed with them will provide added sense of security.
- Let your older child help. "Involve the toddler in the care of the baby — make him or her mommy’s little helper, so he or she feels important," Dr. Sears advises. They can help with feeding and diaper changes; though Jennifer warns not to force anything on them. "The older child needs to find their own way with getting to know the baby."
- Don’t make any big transitions. Jennifer warns against potty training, switching beds or moving homes while pregnant, as to not disturb your older child’s routine. Keep structure in their lives, too, when it comes to play time, meals, bed time and other activities. "A child needs two to four months to adjust to a baby being part of his or her life, and really has to settle into routines again, before you ask him or her to make other changes," she says.
A final reminder: Never stop telling your child how much you care about them. Says Jennifer, "Tell them, ‘Even with the addition of the new baby, mommy and daddy’s hearts will grow big enough to love all of you.’"
Photo by Flynet.
How did you deal with the arrival of a new baby in your family? Leave your own tips and advice for Gwen and Gavin!