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Preparing your child for the arrival of a new baby

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My husband and I are preparing to tell more people that we are expecting our second child, but first we need to break the news to our 3-year-old daughter. I’m about 14 weeks along, so my daughter has some time to get used to the idea before the baby arrives, but how should we go about telling her the big news? Also, we are hoping to have one or two more children in the future — should we change our approach to breaking the news when that time comes?

It’s important to talk with your children about what to expect when you’re expecting. As children change, mature, and develop their personalities, your approach to equipping them for siblinghood should change as well. Getting your older children ready for the arrival of a new baby — even if you have done so before — can be different with each new addition to the family.

The first step is letting your children know there is a baby on the way. For some children, this conversation might be simple to initiate, but, for others, it is okay to hold off on the conversation until they are curious about mommy’s growing belly. Your child may have a hard time imagining that there’s a baby growing inside you if your body still looks the same.

Talk to your child at a time when he or she is relaxed and not dealing with any other stressful changes — like starting school or getting over a cold. If possible, have both parents there and find a calm period when your child will have time to process the news and ask questions. When you’re ready to tell your child about the pregnancy, keep the language positive, simple, and straightforward. Remember that the information you give to children should be age appropriate. Children do not need to hear more than they can understand.

Depending on your children’s questions, breaking the news may only take an evening, or you may be fielding questions over the course of several weeks or months. Listen to your children’s responses and adjust your approach accordingly to make sure they understand that a baby is joining the family.

When a newborn is brought home, everyone’s roles, routines, and responsibilities are affected. The way you prepare children for these changes can color their attitudes toward becoming older siblings. It’s natural for them to show enthusiasm, resentment, or indifference to these new developments.

Get your child involved with the preparations for her new sibling to shift her energy in a positive direction. Include older children in shopping trips or have them brainstorm baby names to foster excitement about having a younger brother or sister. Your eager anticipation of the baby can easily transfer to your older children.

To schedule an appointment with a pediatrician affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, please call (718) 499–2273 or visit www.nyp.org/brooklyn.

Posted 12:00 am, April 29, 2018
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