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How to Prep Your Kid for a New Sibling

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    1: Involve Your Child in the Discussion

    Involve Your Child in the DiscussionYou may think you're sparing your child by talking over his head about the baby, but that can actually make your child feel anxious. You'll have to gauge your child's developmental readiness (age is only one factor) to decide when to have the conversation, but it's generally a good idea to tell your child before he's going to start hearing it in casual adult conversation with friends or family.

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    2: Be Inclusive

    Be InclusiveTalk about the baby in relationship to him &mdash saying things like “your baby brother will be living in this room” will reinforce the idea that your oldest child will not be replaced by the new one. You can even ask your oldest to participate in some of the decisions about the new baby, whether it’s room design or name suggestions &mdash it will further his sense of pride and connection to what’s going on.

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    3: Teach Your Child About Babies

    Teach Your Child About BabiesBabies can be weird alien creatures to those who don’t have firsthand experience with them. Show your child what babies look like and do. The first part of this process is showing your child pictures or videos of himself as a baby. You can also read books and spend time with friends or family with babies. The idea is to familiarize him so he has some idea of what to expect &mdash and what’s better about being a big kid!

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    4: Don’t Push: Respect Your Child’s Cues.

    Don’t Push: Respect Your Child’s Cues.The idea of a new sibling is overwhelming and anxiety producing. If it’s the first new baby in the house, your child has no idea what to expect and frankly may not want to deal with it. When you’re trying to talk to him about the baby, don’t expect your child to be riveted by the material. You’re doing this to try to ease him into the experience, and he can only swallow as much as he’s ready for.

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    5: Make Big Changes Far from Due Date

    Make Big Changes Far from Due DateA new baby often motivates a move or, at the very least, a moving around of things. Though the actual changes may be inevitable, you can help prevent your eldest from associating them with the new baby if you time them as far away from the due date as you can. It’s especially important to be sensitive when you’re giving things that used to be your older child’s to the new baby.

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    6: Take Your Child to Your Checkup

    Take Your Child to Your CheckupA visit to the OB or midwife is especially helpful for science-minded children, who may be more interested in the medical part of the process than the abstract idea that they will be getting a sibling. Depending on your caregiver, you may be able to listen to the baby’s heartbeat or see the baby on the ultrasound, which can help reinforce the idea that the baby is a reality (just as it does for adults).

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    7: Consider a Sibling Prep Class

    Consider a Sibling Prep ClassMany childbirth prep and parenting education centers offer classes for expecting siblings. Classes vary, but are generally focused on giving kids an overview about life with a new baby in an age-appropriate way. Young children may comprehend less, but the benefit of a class isn’t just what they learn on that day; having a touchstone to return to when you’re talking about the baby can be really helpful.

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    8: Keep Your Child Close

    Keep Your Child CloseCuddling in late pregnancy can be uncomfortable, but it can also help your child feel more at ease. Once the baby’s born, you can work out some new routines to allow your older child to snuggle with you while you feed or sit with the new baby. If your child knows there’s a place for him, those endless feeding sessions occupying your time will seem a lot less threatening.

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    9: Plan a Smooth Introduction

    Plan a Smooth IntroductionIdeally, the first time you see your elder child after your new baby is born, you’ll have your arms and attention free to give to him. It’s especially suggested that someone else &mdash not a parent and especially not the mom &mdash be holding the new baby when your older child sees him for the first time. It may be better to wait for a more relaxed moment than trying to squeeze it in when your child is tired, hungry or otherwise stressed.

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    10: Cut Everybody Some Slack!

    Cut Everybody Some SlackMany parents say the hardest part of having a new baby is not the baby itself, but managing the older one’s reaction. Regression is common; your child may see the benefits of being a baby from watching you fawn over the newborn. Don’t underestimate the role of your own emotions either. This change will be as complicated for you as for your biggest little one.

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