The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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I can still see my older daughter, who’s now 7, when her little sister first arrived. Paige, who was 2 1/2 at the time, couldn’t wait for her new sibling. She helped set up her room and got a new doll to play “mommy” with. In the hospital, the sisters exchanged gifts, and Paige doted on the baby. For a while, she even believed all that business of how wonderful being a big sister was. Then the novelty wore off.
A week after her sister was born, Paige said that we should take Marissa back to the hospital. When that idea didn’t fly, she suggested that we give her sister to a family who didn’t have a baby. One heartbreaking day, while I was holding Marissa, Paige threw herself down on the floor and sobbed: “She hurts my feelings.”
Ah, siblings. In spite of parents’ best efforts, having a second child is tough on a firstborn who, until No. 2 came along, had a monopoly on mom and dad’s laps, love and attention. “There isn’t any way to avoid the rivalry,” says T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., pediatrician, author and host of the TV show “Brazelton on Parenting” on Fox Family Channel. “It’s natural and healthy. The best you can do is help the child adjust and keep in mind there’s probably no better gift you can give a child than a sibling.”
Helping the first child adjust
While no parent can avoid or predict her child’s reaction to a new baby — which can show up as regression, aggression or withdrawal — you can help smooth the transition during pregnancy and after the birth, according to Vicki Lansky, author of Welcoming Your Second Baby (Book Peddlers, 1990). Here are some of her tips.
When the baby arrives: