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A new brother or sister

It can be a major transition for an older child to get a little brother or sister, particularly if it’s the older child’s first time. Preparing the older child in advance can make it easier when you come home with your new baby.

Prepare the older child well in advance

Start preparations as soon as you know you are expecting. For instance, you can switch rooms, beds or change other routines well before the new family member comes home. Read stories about having a new sibling, look at photos from when the older child was a baby and talk about that, and meet other infants. As your due date draws closer, involve your child even more. Verbalize all the preparations you are making at home. Give your older one a doll or stuffed toy during the pregnancy, maybe complete with small diapers and clothes.

Talk realistically with the child. For instance, it’s not a good idea to say that you’re bringing home a play friend since it will be some time before they can play together.

Ask relatives and friends to pay attention to and validate your older child when they meet you together with the newborn baby.

Daily life with more than one

Makes sure that your older child still enjoys time with you as his or her parent. If there are two of you, try to regularly schedule alone time with the parent that the child spent most time with before the little brother or sister arrived (to minimize the change)—based on your situation at home. Even brief moments together are priceless—like eating a snack together and talking about their day at preschool, drawing at the kitchen table or reading aloud from a book. Try to be completely present at these moments. Put aside your phone, iPad, computer and other interruptions. Give your child your full attention so that he or she does not seek out negative attention.

Give the older children some privileges, like going shopping with you, or activities with a parent or relatives such as going to the movies or swimming, or getting a weekly allowance.

It can be tough, but if you find some balance in the family, your feeding sessions will be calmer, and it will be easier to bond with your newborn.

Breastfeeding when you get home

Often times, it’s baby’s crying that upsets an older child. When baby is hungry and cries, and the mother focuses on the baby and wants to nurse, that’s when the older one also wants attention and climbs up into mom’s lap.

Distracting maneuver

When baby cries, the other parent/support person can think of something fun to do with the older child that distracts from the baby for a while. This will allow the mother to start nursing in peace and quiet. When the baby nurses, the older child can come and watch baby eating from mommy’s breast. Read books, cuddle and rhymes about feet

Later, once you’re more comfortable nursing, you can read a book for the older one while you nurse—a nice time for everyone.

Make baby’s feet and toes interesting. They are not that fragile when the older one wants to hold or stroke the little one. There’s also less risk of infection compared with baby’s face and head. Sing songs or make up rhymes about feet and toes.