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Posted by Katie oGrady

Advice on Introducing a New Sibling, by Dr Natalie Flatter, Clinical Psychologist

Often couples hope that their newborn baby will grow into a devoted playmate and companion for their firstborn child. However, parents don’t always know how to cope with their child’s feelings about a new arrival as they try to simultaneously meet the competing demands of a baby and a young child – all whilst in the throes of sleep deprivation!

The first born child is used to being the sole centre of attention so they can often feel a sense of abandonment or displacement when their sibling is born. They can become extra clingy or even regress towards babyhood themselves. Here are some tips on how to help your child adjust:

  1. Explain to your child what they can expect when the baby arrives in appropriate language. You can role play or read some books together about a new baby or becoming a big brother or sister. Prepare them in advance for any changes to their routine
  2. Try not to make any major changes for your child straight after the baby is born. If you are going to start them at nursery, potty train or move them to a new bedroom then try to do it before the baby arrives
  3. Try to plan some one-to-one time with your child, even if it is for a short period each day and shower your child with lots of affection
  4. Your child will request your attention at all times of the day – during feeding or changing. Explain that you cannot help right away but as soon as you are finished you will help them with what they need or want
  5. Encourage your child to be involved in decisions and ask for their advice, such as naming or clothing the baby. Give them special jobs to do to help and praise your child when they are caring or helpful with the baby
  6. Understand that your child has a big adjustment to make which can take time, be sensitive to their feelings and talk about it with them