safe motherhood


Integrating another sibling

Many parents expecting a second baby find themselves torn between wanting the baby and not wanting their first child to be upset by the new arrival.

"I really want Jamie to have a brother or sister, but I feel really guilty about turning his little world upside down. It feels like I'm betraying him." Kate, mother of Jamie, aged 2.

It's normal for a child to feel jealous of a new baby in the family. But there are things you can do to make it easier.

Before the baby arrives:

• Let your child spend some time with other children who have babies in the family if you can.
• Talk to him or her about what babies are like and what they can do.
• Show him or her photographs of themselves as a baby.
• Show them where the baby is and let them feel.
• Sing songs with your child to the baby.
• Read stories about children whose mothers have a baby.
• Some children like to have a doll or a teddy as their 'baby'.

After the baby is born

• Try to involve your child in looking after the baby if he wants to, but don't insist.
• Talk to your child about what the baby is doing and the things they used to do when they were that age.
• Ask their opinion about what the baby wants.
• Point out the things that your child can do that the baby can't - but try to avoid giving the impression that the baby is silly or that they are 'better' than the baby.
• When you have to give your attention to the baby, when you're feeding or bathing him or her, for example, make sure that your child has plenty of toys to amuse themselves with, or read or sing or talk to them.
• Find time to do things with your child without the baby, if you can. These can be ordinary things like reading him or her a story or bathing them, or special things like outings.
• Arrange things so that your child gets attention from both his parents rather than mostly from their father while his or her mother looks after the baby.
• Let your child know that it's OK not to like the baby sometimes - he or she doesn't have to pretend if they don't.
• Keep to your child's routine as much as you can.

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