Tips for dealing with sibling jealousy

You're pregnant – congratulations! This time there are at least three of you expecting a baby. But one of you might not be so convinced it's a good idea. Here are some tips for preparing the older sibling.

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It's natural to feel jealous
Expect the older sibling to be a bit jealous. This is natural when you think about it, since he or she is no longer getting the parents' undivided attention and love. Don't expect your older child to be as happy at the prospect of a new brother or sister as the adults in the family.
Related articles: Getting a new sibling and When siblings fight.

Luckily, jealousy is not the only feeling the older siblings will have for the new baby. They will probably also feel a lot of love and affection, especially if the parents handle the situation with love and awareness.

Prepare the older sibling
Here are some things you can do to prepare your older child for the change ahead:

• Start by having your child meet other families with babies, so he or she understands this is something natural and fun for the whole family. You could let your child hold the baby and let them know that a little person like this will soon be joining your family.

• Bring your child along to the midwife. Let him or her feel the baby moving and, if possible, be present during the ultrasound scan. This will make your child feel important and excited about the new arrival. Involving your child in the process generates curiosity and will probably make him or her less jealous and better prepared when the new baby arrives.

• Let your child help choose a bed or pram, or involve your child in choosing a name for the new baby. You might consider buying something for the older child as well depending on its age, for instance a new bed.

• Explain to your child that a baby needs a lot of help and can sometimes cry a lot. This should make the child more patient of the new baby.

• If the older child needs to change from sleeping in a cot to a bed or is going to face other major changes such as starting preschool, make sure this is done well before the baby's arrival. Consider putting the cot away for a few months. When you get it out again, your older child will have stopped thinking about it as its bed.

• You could both sing to the unborn baby and discuss the fact that it can hear your voices.

• Be honest. Tell your child all the nice things about getting a new sibling, but also explain that it can be a bit challenging for the older sibling to start with, especially when the baby gets a lot of attention and needs plenty of care. 

• Prepare for the older sibling to test your love, especially if the child is very young. Make sure there is always room on your knee for both children and never favour one sibling.

• Siblings are always welcome at the maternity clinic if the family wants to bring them. It's a big event when a new family member arrives in the world, and something the whole family should share.

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