Well, my daughter had her second baby! We all expected this little one weeks ago, as her sister arrived unexpectedly early (compliments of Hurricane Irene), so, the days leading up to due date seemed terribly long. But, thankfully all is well, and healthy baby and mom are now home and the family is adjusting to a modified routine with seasoned parents who know all about caring for a newborn.
But what about big sister? At two and a half, can we expect some regression in behavior? Sometimes, but not necessarily.
As with all children, there are trying moments , even days, but many experts say that if you do all the rights things after a baby is born, if you are loving and supportive and playful, your older child may not regress as you have been told older children do. In fact, some researchers report that an enhancement in development may be associated with the birth of a sibling. Amazingly, some children become quickly toilet trained after the birth of a sib, learn to play more independently, separate more easily from the parents, and easily relinquish a pacifier. Such progress is more likely if the child was prepared early on for the birth, if she had contact with her mother during the hospital stay, and if the father has been actively involved. Given all this, I conclude that my eldest granddaughter has a pretty good chance of rising to the occasion of behaving as “big sister!”
But regression can happen even in the best of families. It signifies a temporarily longing to be a baby again, and to receive the same total care and attention as a baby does. Some children revert to crawling, shift to baby talk and wet their pants more often, or even beg for a bottle or breast milk! Don’t panic! This is normal! Best thing to do as a parent is to be reassuring and nonjudgmental. Most of all remain patient. Go along with them, within reason. If they say ‘dress me,’ do. If they want to try a bottle, all right. But if they only want a bottle and nothing else, say ‘You don’t just drink mile, you have other foods.’ (What kid wants to give up birthday cake or cookies?!) They most likely will lose interest in the bottle after awhile. Even though they did like being a baby, they also like how it feels to be “big.”
Remember that regression does not occur only after a sibling’s birth. Often, as children grow up, they go back to a stage they felt more comfortable in, and then they go back to being themselves. (When you think about it, don’t we do that as adults from time to time?) If you allow your child to regress temporarily and return to a former stage, you are providing her with the security she needs to go on.