Sibling rivalry: New baby in the house - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Sibling rivalry: New baby in the house

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Huntsville Hospital is trying to reach kids like the Merchants' with their Sibling Class. Huntsville Hospital is trying to reach kids like the Merchants' with their Sibling Class.
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Five year old Oliver, 4-year-old Owen, and 2-year-old Chloe are about to welcome a new member to their household. Othniel is expected to arrive at the Merchant household November 22.

Mom, Corrie Merchant, has plenty of experience bringing a new baby into the home with older siblings.

"There can be some jealousy going on, wanting Mommy's attention, wanting Daddy's attention, somebody's attention. Sometimes they'll act out," said Merchant.

Huntsville Hospital is trying to reach kids like the Merchants' with their Sibling Class.

Registered Nurse Melissa Kassay teaches the one-day class, which prepares older children for a new brother or sister.  

"We teach them how to change diapers, feed the babies and burp the babies," said Kassay. "We want them to feel like they are still number one."

Psychologists say there are tips that can help parent prepare that older sibling for the new addition.

"One thing that seems to help a lot is to engage, to some extent, their self esteem. Baby is lucky to have you as the older brother or sister. And then letting them be involved in the care, yes, to reinforce that," said Dr. Kenneth P. Sullivan.

Merchant said she tries to prepare the older children. 

"I tell them somebody's coming, a new baby's coming. I started taking them to OB visits so they could hear the heartbeat," she said.

Sullivan said there are some things parents should not do.

"It doesn't help that much to try to convince the older brother, they're lucky to have this baby. That's really not the strategy that works so well," he said.

Instead, involve them in the care taking and praise them for those skills. Also, parents must take care and give plenty of attention to the older child. Make sure that child knows someone else is taking care of baby while you and he spend time together.

The bottom line? It's imperative to make certain the older child is well prepared for the arrival of the younger child.

Other ideas include exchanging gifts, asking for sibling help with the diaper changing process - even if it is something as simple as asking for a wipe.  Then praise them.

Don't forget to start the process before the birth of the new baby and include the older sibling in the preps for the new baby.

DO NOT have separate accomplishments like toilet training occur at the same time as the birth of the new child.  Wait a while so the older child can be praised for this accomplishment.

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