You cannot expect your firstborn to naturally adjust to his or her new sibling, especially if they are young themselves. You need to prepare your child for the sibling, right from the time of pregnancy. Once the baby arrives, here are some ways in which parents can help their firstborn bond with the sibling.
1. Teach your toddler how to interact
Do not keep your child away from their newborn sibling fearing they might not be able to handle the little one. Begin by teaching your firstborn how to interact with the baby by demonstrating and guiding them with the steps. Teach how to touch the baby softly or play with them. Meanwhile, closely monitor your older child’s behaviour with the baby.
2. Watch the baby together
Encourage your child to observe the baby closely with you. Get your older one to describe the baby’s actions or watch the baby when sleeping.
3. Let them help you
To get your child involved, you can assign tasks like fetching the diapers or new clothes for the baby, sprinkling powder or placing the pillows correctly for support while you breastfeed.
Don’t forget to appreciate your firstborn’s efforts in helping you out and the baby. Show them the importance of being the big brother or sister.
5. Don’t deprive them
Even as you may be occupied with the newborn, make sure you don’t deprive your firstborn in the process. Avoid telling the older one that you won’t be able to spend time with them and cater to their needs because of the baby. Watch your words or you might just be sowing the seeds of sibling rivalry unknowingly.
6. Acknowledge your child’s feelings
With a new member in the house, it is natural for the older one to go through a range of feelings. Speak to them about their feelings. Parents need to be careful to not dismiss their insecurities and reassure the older child of their love and support.
7. Don’t force them
In case your child is not immediately bonding with the baby, do not push them to do so. Allow them some time to acclimatise and they will surely come around.
8. Spend some alone time
Take out some time to chat with your firstborn, watch a movie or read a book together when the baby is sleeping or there is some other family member to look after the newborn. This will make your firstborn realise that you are as much there for them as you are for the baby.
This article first appeared in ‘The Indian Express’
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