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Bringing Home a New Baby - Shifting From Fear to Calm

mom with newborn and son

Another child is about to come into your home. It’s an exciting time filled with optimism and joy. Yet, at the same time, you might also be feeling some worry about how your older child will handle the new baby, anxiety about how you will manage it all, maybe even guilt as if by having another child you’re taking something away from your older child or children.


You might even have friends or family warning you, “A new baby will turn your child’s world upside down! Get ready because nothing will ever be the same!” which of course, only adds pressure.


I know there are a lot of ideas out there about how to navigate adding a new baby into your home - from friends, family and other parenting experts - and I think you may be surprised that my views differ from a lot of what’s out there. Mainly, because much of the common feedback you hear is based in fear. And we know that acting out of fear or anxiety alone is not the healthiest approach for you or your children. 


So let’s start right there and talk through a couple of the biggest misconceptions I come across when it comes to bringing home another child.


Misconception #1 - Bringing home a baby will completely turn your current child's life upside down.

In other words, the change is so big, it will totally rock their world. 


Have you heard this one? I actually disagree with this common idea.


Now, I’m not saying nothing changes. I am saying when one thing changes, it doesn’t automatically mean everything else also changes. In fact, when you give it some reasonable thought, having a sibling is one of the most normal, natural and common life transitions your child can go through. 


Yes, you prepare your child for the transition, but really, you prepare yourself, knowing that change is a natural part of life and your grounded presence is what your child needs most to handle this new transition well.


This is why I personally don’t think you need to bring your older child a gift “from the baby”. Have you heard that tip? It’s common advice that’s given, telling you to bring your older child or children a gift that’s “from” the new baby when you first introduce them. 


Of course, you can absolutely do this if you want to and no, it will not cause harm if you do. However, ask yourself: What is behind this gift? Compensation? Distraction? Bribery? What’s the message getting sent to your child; that having a sibling is so “bad” or “hard” you need to distract them with a gift? 


However, the most important idea to consider is this - bringing home a new baby doesn't require distraction, compensation, bribery, or any convincing to make it ok… It just IS ok. Distractions are momentary. A sibling is for good. And no tricks or gimmicks are needed :) Just your calm, grounded presence leading the way because you trust that all will be ok. Not always easy, but yes, it will be ok. And THAT is the most impactful gift you can provide your child.



Misconception #2 The new baby will require so much of your love, time and attention you won’t have any left for your other child.


I know many parents feel some level of guilt or fear around this idea. For some of you, this may be your greatest fear of all, and so I hope to dispel some of that worry. 


Love and attention are not physical, tangible things, like objects you give or take away. Love and attention are complex, abstract concepts. They are feelings, they are fluid, they grow and change. 


If you find yourself fearing that your older child will be given less of what they have now, I want you to consider this. Your child’s needs naturally evolve, and what you fear you might be giving them less of when the baby arrives might actually be what they naturally need less of at their new age. 


The love and attention you give your 3 year old or 5 yr old does not look the same as the love and attention you give your new baby. You hold your baby, rock your baby, feed your baby, change your baby… Meanwhile, you play with your older child, talk to them, sing together, go on walks, discuss their day, pretend with them, teach them to ride a bike, cook with them… and on and on. 


Your love and attention naturally change to accommodate the different needs of your children. So it’s not a matter of more or less, it’s simply different. It's about understanding they each need something different, and that’s totally ok. 


Here is one idea for how to even talk to your child about this concept: 


“My love and attention that I have for you are always there, always yours. 
They belong only to you and no one can take them away. And you know what, they’re also special - they grow! 
When the baby comes, I don't give him YOUR love and attention, no… those are always yours. 
I grow a NEW love and attention for the baby. 
You have yours, always… he has his, always.. And that’s forever.”


These shifts in mindset are a part of your preparation. They help you reframe your perspective, ground yourself, and help to set the stage for what’s to come. 


For more strategies and tools (including exact scripts!) for how to prepare your child, how to introduce your child to the new baby, and how to navigate the first year in a way that reduces regression and fosters connection, check out my Everything Siblings Course. 


As the relationship between your children grows, so do the tools in the course. When you need them, you’ll find precise tools for fighting, arguing, jealousy, sharing, attention, competition, fairness and all the tell-tale aspects of the sibling relationship, all with an emphasis on lasting, authentic connection. 

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Dr. Siggie Cohen

Dr. Siggie Cohen is known as the “Child Whisperer” for her unparalleled depth of insight in working with children. For more than 35 years, she has worked extensively with thousands of children and families, first as a teacher and then as a child developmental specialist. Dr. Siggie has a private practice, lectures and teaches throughout the Los Angeles area. Her approach has proven successful in helping parents and teachers deepen their understanding of children’s behaviors, so they can support them through the entire range of emotional challenges, including behavioral difficulties, transitions and trauma. She is also a mother of 3.

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