Parenting

Parenting: Introducing your child to a new sibling

Friday, April 13, 2012

My son is very rambunctious as the night comes to a close. He flings himself out of the tub and goes berserk jumping and kicking on the bed as I try to get his pajamas on.

Now that I'm pregnant, I have to worry that his manic behavior could be harmful. "Mommy is having a baby, "I said one night while he bathed. "When you were little, you grew in Mommy's tummy until you were ready to come out. Now your brother is in there and when he's ready, he'll come out too."

I couldn't tell if he was understanding but shortly it was clear that he processed all this as his little brother playing a game of fetal hide and seek. "And when he come out, he yell 'Surprise!'," he screamed. Because of my giggles, he continued to yell "Surprise!" for the next few nights.

How do you explain your expanding tummy and an impending arrival to your toddler or pre-schooler?

Advice suggests saying something early on, perhaps at the end of the first trimester, so that your child hears it from you. You don't want them to catch on as other people discuss or congratulate your pregnancy. Telling them early also gives you a chance to explain your symptoms to your child, letting them how you may be emotional, tired or temperamental, but it's not their fault.

If the child is really young, like 3-years-old or under, it may be better to wait until later. With that age, waiting until about the eighth month is best. That's when your child can really see your bulging midsection, maybe even see a moving hand or foot.

Babycenter.com suggests you put it in context for your youngster, maybe showing pictures of them as a baby or telling them stories. Explain that this about to happen again with their sibling. The site also warns don't be surprised if you kid is non-pulsed, quickly segueing to a conversation about their favorite toy or showing you a new dance.

Dr. Sears.com also has some sound tips. Arrange for your child to be around other small babies and explain one of those will soon be in your house. Look for books that emphasize siblings, and use it as a chance to talk to them about being a big brother or sister.

Take the child to your doctor's appointments and let them get in on the excitement of hearing the baby's heartbeat or seeing their ultrasound picture. And encourage bonding, talking to your little one about how they'll be part of caring for, comforting and playing with the new baby.

Read more Parenting Perspective blogs by visiting the Parenting Channel on 6abc.com.

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