Safe Siblings: Introducing Baby To Older Children
Practice, Practice, Practice
Children learn through play. Before the baby is born, give your child a baby doll. Show her how to support a baby’s head. Help her change the doll’s diaper, bathe and feed it. If she already has a doll or even a stuffed animal that she’s attached to, she can use that as her baby. Dr. Gouze says realism isn’t important as long as your child likes the doll.
Practice hugs to teach your toddler how tightly to squeeze the baby. Give her a hug, squeezing just right. Then it’s her turn. Let her squeeze too tightly once or twice so you can help her gauge her strength. Of course, invite her to practice “just right” hugs on you anytime.
When you bring your newborn home, pick a peaceful time for your child to hold the baby, maybe after the toddler's nap and the baby's feeding. Have your toddler settle onto a cushioned spot on the floor. Gently place the baby in the big sibling's arms, resting in her lap. Try not to panic. Children pick up on their parents' anxieties. Set the scene safely and stay close, and you don't have to worry.
Give your toddler plenty of opportunities to observe the baby, so she's not tempted to climb for a peek. When you're nearby, place the baby on a blanket on the floor, or put a stool next to the bassinet.
"Bonding and attachments come about from everyday interaction," says Dr. Gouze. Here are times when big siblings can safely pitch in:
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