Lisa Spindler Photography Inc./Getty ImagesA new baby can not only bring tremendous joy into a family, it can cause a considerable amount of strife. Older siblings may have a tougher time adjusting than mom and dad. We asked REDBOOK readers to share their best tips on how to ease the transition. Here's what they had to say:
"My daughter, Brenna, now 7, was 5 when I gave birth to Scott. Instead of pushing her to take on her big-sister role, we focused on keeping her individual life as routine as possible: She kept up her schedule of playdates and activities, and we let her dictate when and how much she wanted to be involved with Scott. At first Brenna didn't acknowledge her new brother very much, but when she realized that the structure of her life didn't have to change, she warmed up to him and began asking to hold him or feed him a bottle, and now she loves Scott very much. I think our approach helped mitigate some of the competition for attention that's common when a new sibling arrives."
--Ellen Bremen, 40, Seattle
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"When my son Trace was born, I put a sign on our front door telling visitors to ask my 3-year-old son, Trent, to show them his new baby brother. That way, Trent felt like his big-brother role was very important, and he adored Trace. But please don't ask me how they get along now, 10 years later!"
--April Tilley, 42, Winston-Salem, NC
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"I made sure to involve my 4-year-old daughter, Jessica, in caring for the new baby. Though it usually took more time, she helped me change diapers (with assistance!) and bottle-feed the baby. Jealousy never became an issue."
--Angie Foley, 46, Princeton, WV
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"To prepare my 2-year-old daughter, Carrera, for her new sister, we bought several big-sister books, and we used a baby doll to explain her new role to her. We visited my friends who had babies so she could see what a real baby was like. And once the baby arrived, we asked Carrera to pick out a special welcome gift for her, and then we bought a gift for Carrera from the baby. All of these things helped ease her into becoming a sister."
--Sara Smith, 32, Lancaster, KY
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"When I gave birth to my son, Jarrett, I made the mistake of asking my husband to take Rebecca, my 3-year-old, on outings so I could focus on the baby. I soon realized that this wasn't helping Rebecca deal with having a brother, so I switched tactics: When my husband got home from work, I'd hand Jarrett off to him so I could give Rebecca some un-divided attention; this helped her get through the difficult time. When I had my third child three years later, Rebecca took it in stride, as did Jarrett, who had never been an only child and so probably figured, What's one more?"
--Karen Schiff Freeman, 39, Solon, OH
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"I made it easy on myself: I had twins!"
--Maree Carlo, 24, Flemington, NJ
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"To prepare my then-5-year-old daughter, Brandi, for the arrival of her new brother, I encouraged her to help choose the colors and theme of the nursery, and she really enjoyed decorating. When our friends and family stopped by to see the new baby, I made sure they spent some quality time with Brandi too. The transition from one child to two turned out to be quite smooth."
--Barbara Stanley, 55, Blairsville, GA
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