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Expert advice: Preparing for baby no. 2

Older brother spending time with new baby - favorite parenting tips

How can I keep the peace when I bring my second baby home? Five Marshfield Clinic pediatricians offer their best tips to address this question:

Tip 1: Include the older child

“Expect it to be more challenging than you anticipated,” said Dr. Michael Sullivan. “Be aware of the messages being sent to the older child. Family members and friends should make sure the older child is included.”

Tip 2: Dedicate one-on-one time

“Adding a second child is exciting but also can be stressful, said Dr. David Holz. “This addition is a major change for your eldest child and each child will respond differently.  Find ways to include your older child in the newborn’s care and ensure that each parent is dedicating consistent one-on-one time to reinforce the truth that the new baby is not replacing him or her.”

Tip 3: Ask the older child for help caring for baby

“If you have a toddler at home, be prepared and try to baby-proof the house for that toddler as much as possible,” said Dr. Nicole Giles.  “Include the older child in the baby’s care and include tasks like getting a diaper, blanket or burp cloth.”

Tip 4: Prepare small sibling gifts

“Look through baby pictures of your first child and explain that the new baby will need lots of time and care,” said Dr. Kathryn Schaus. “Plan special times alone with your older child each day such as taking short times to read a story or play with your first-born while the new baby is sleeping or content. Have some small sibling gifts available to help the older child feel special, especially when friends and family are delivering gifts for the new baby.”

Tip 5: Buy a doll to practice interaction

“Start getting the older child ready during the pregnancy by including him or her in doctor’s visits and home preparations,” said Dr. Julie Kyle. “Buying a doll for the older child to interact with – and work out some emotions about the baby – can be helpful. Be prepared for some misbehavior and developmental back-sliding from an older child. Catch the child being good and reinforce the things he or she can do that the baby can’t.”

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