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5-Year-Olds and a New Baby

by Margot F. | April 15th, 2014 | Preschool, Social

visiting babyFive-year-olds rock! They are active, curious and fun. However, they are still dependent on the adults in their life to keep them safe and explain events. The arrival of a baby tends to cause anxiety for everyone. Here a few suggestions to help make the transitions easier.

As a child is approaching their fifth birthday, many parents choose to have another child. With one in school, the mother will have time for the baby and also to help the older child. Preparing the older child for the new arrival will take time and patience because even a mature five-year-old will feel threatened that the baby will get more love and attention. Reassuring the child that they will always be loved and supported is important. Also, letting the child help plan for the new arrival might smooth the transition.

The child should be told about the baby when the mother is confident that the pregnancy is viable, sometime after the third month. Although the parents may be overjoyed, the five-year-old might be less enthusiastic. Help the child adjust to the baby’s arrival by giving the due date, gender if known, and maybe even a look at a picture from an ultrasound.

Printing out calendars to help the child see approximately when the baby is due will help give a sense of time. For example, if the baby is due in August, start talking about the baby in April or May and then show on the calendar how many months to wait. If your child is interested, maybe even crossing days off near the end is good.

Discuss where the baby will sleep and the location of the change table. If the older child needs to move to make room for the baby, it is best to make the change early to give the child time to adjust to the new surroundings. It might seem like a small thing to an adult, but could be huge for a child. Finding books at the library about being a big brother or sister might help the child feel proud of their new role in the family.

As the arrival date draws closer, discuss who will look after the older child when Mom goes into hospital. When the baby arrives, arrange for the child to visit when it is convenient. Maybe the older child would like to choose a present for the baby and if possible, hold the newborn.

Once the baby is brought home and the family begins to adjust to the new arrangement, the older child might be a bit insecure and act out. However, as the parents continue to reassure the child of their love, things will settle down. Hopefully the older child will feel a sense of pride to be a role model for his younger sibling and gain confidence helping out.

Bringing a baby into the home is a big adjustment for a five-year-old, but with planning and patience, everyone feels loved.

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