Introducing Siblings To Your Newborn
Siblings and Preemies
Many parents often wonder how soon a sibling should hold or interact with their newborn sibling. It may become a challenge to keep siblings from wanting to hold and cuddle with their newborn brother or sister. Most siblings do not know that their brother or sister is a preemie. If they have been around other babies, the sibling may only notice that he is smaller than other babies.
It is up to you as a parent to go into detail as to why he was born early or why he is so small. If your preemie appears to be very fragile, ill or need special attention, the siblings may feel a sense of frustration or they may become uncomfortable. Children under a certain age may not question or care to know such details. Every child's response is unique. Even their feelings about having a new brother or sister is different.
Smaller sibling's reactions may be placed towards the mother because of the time and energy she is spending taking care of their brother or sister. If the newborn is still in the hospital, time spent away from home gives the impression that their new sibling is physically taking their mother or parents away. They may feel alone or isolated from the rest of the family.
Older siblings are just as uncomfortable with their mother or parents being away from home as smaller siblings. Older brothers' and sisters' feelings may be complicated and sharpened by worrying about the health of the new baby and the health of their parents. Seeing their mother and father feeling a bit stressed at the end of the day, may impose an aloofness to their new brother or sister.
Your children's feelings
It is important to let your children express their emotions and anxieties. Although smaller siblings may not verbalize their feelings, they may demonstrate their stress by acting out, throwing tantrums, or regressing in newly acquired skills like potty training or sleeping through the night.
Talk straightforwardly to older children and let them know the importance of their sibling's need for your attention and time, and always answer their questions honestly. Involve them as much as possible with the care their new sibling will need.
There are several steps you can take to ease the discomfort siblings may have and help them adjust to this new chapter of their lives. It is important to reassure your children that they are still loved and are very much a part of their new sister or brother's life.
Meeting the baby
If possible. purchase a gift for each sibling from the baby, even if the sibling is older. A gift is a gesture of love.
Encourage loving contact by asking if they would like stroke the baby's head, or put a hand on his back, or slide a finger into his hand for him to hold. If your baby is well enough, let the older sibling hold them (with supervision from you).
Ask them if they would like to sing a song, very softly. Tell them the baby may already know their voice because he got used to hearing them when he was inside mommy's tummy.
If you are bottle feeding, ask the smaller children if they would like to hold the bottle with you as you feed him. Ask the older children if they would like to feed him with you by their side.
Consider asking your smaller children if they would like to draw a picture of their new baby sibling with the family. Another bonding activity is to make cards, that can become a momentum. Let them pick out a small stuffed animal next time they visit a mall or department store.
Help your children think of the baby as part of the family by calling hm by his name, and referring to him as our baby, your baby or your big sister or brother.It is essential for siblings to bond with their new sibling and while doing so, be able to keep their own identity.
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