Preventing Feelings of Neglect
Young children are naturally hungry for information, and very eager to learn. Depending on your child's age and emotional development, you may want to use this opportunity to introduce her to some basic facts about conception, prenatal development, birth, and delivery. Books (such as
Happy Birth Day
by Robie H. Harris) can be especially useful.
This is also an ideal opportunity to teach children how to care for an infant. Give your child (boy or girl) a new doll and use it to demonstrate the proper way to touch, hold, and care for the new baby. Be sure to use appropriate terms when talking to your child. Explain the many needs babies have so that your child is prepared for the time commitment they require.
Important character qualities can also be developed at this time. Praise your child when she helps with the baby so she can learn the satisfaction in giving to others. Allowing her to "baby-sit" for her brother or sister while you are on the phone, paying bills, cleaning, etc. will give your child a sense of responsibility. However, it is important that your children are always in full view.
When a child is accustomed to the parent's full attention, it is difficult for him to accept anything that interferes. Be prepared to give him extra support during this time. Assure your child that there is enough love for all the children. Answer your child's questions honestly and listen to him intently. Let him know that you understand that he may feel he is being neglected. ("It is hard getting used to a new baby, isn't it?"), but assure him that your love for him has not changed.
Sometimes it is necessary to make special arrangements. Plan special one-on-one outings with your child while someone else takes care of the baby. Allow time each day to continue at least some of the routines you participated in with your child before the baby arrived, such as reading books before bed, holding her on your lap during a favorite TV show, etc.
With some preparation and guidance, the birth of a new baby can be an exciting experience for the entire family.