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Coach Mom Newsletter - OCT 2010

When the Rookie Comes Along:
Adding a Member to Team Family

Though a baby is one of life’s greatest blessings, parents must realize that a newborn in the house may very well call for some of the biggest adjustments of their life (and the life of their older child). Going with the team analogy, let’s just say that first two months is like boot camp. Knowing that boot camp is a short season of life helps with coping emotionally and physically.

Accept that every member of the family will transition at a different pace and in a different way.  For example, a toddler might begin waking up again in the middle of the night again (just when you really need him to sleep the most), but don’t panic. It’s probably just a short-lived part of the transitioning response.

Ground Rules to Help the Veteran Accept the Rookie:

  • Communicate information and expectations. Communicate to the sibling basic pregnancy and birthing information, what newborns do (only eat, poop, sleep and cry), and other expectations.

  • Make any changes such as room and bed changes or potty training well before the baby arrives.

  • Highlight the older sibling’s babyhood. Look at photos and videos of the older sibling as a newborn, and talk about how excited you were when they were born. Tell them about people who came to see them when they were born or brought gifts.

  • Give gifts to older sibling “from the baby” when the baby is born to associate good feelings with the baby.

  • Praise the older sibling in front of others. Tell others “what a good big sister she is” or some specific way she showed responsibility or love toward the baby.

  • Focus on children individually. Plan one-on-one time with the older child, even if it is only 5 minutes a day for toddlers or 20 minutes a week for older children. Schedule it and talk about looking forward to it with your child. This goes a long way in settling the spirit of a child feeling threatened by the new addition.

  • “Baby” your preschooler when appropriate. Rock them and sing to them and show them extra special attention. I remember when each baby got old enough to play peek-a-boo, I was amazed at how much enjoyment my toddlers and preschoolers got out of me playing it with them, too.

  • Let the baby cry. You don’t have to drop everything the minute the baby cries. Give preference to the older siblings over the newborn whenever possible.

  • Take a nap every chance you are able, and have a good cry yourself when needed.

Follow these ground rules, and you are laying the foundation for a unified, All-Star team! Let the games begin!

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When Acquiring Free Agents:
A Word on Adoption

“Adopted children experience many losses [their birth parents, birth siblings, etc.], but parents and professionals alike need to recognize that birth or previously adopted children experience losses, too – the loss of privacy, loss of attention, loss of one-on-one time with their parent(s) and maybe even the loss of their birth order, “ according to Ellen Steele Mullin and LeAnne Johnson. Source: The Role of Birth/Previously Adopted Children in Families Choosing to Adopt Children with Special Needs. In Child Welfare League of America. Vol. LXXVII, No. 5, 579-591 (1999).

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Ask Coach Mom

Dear Brenna,

I’m so afraid of what my toddler’s reaction will be to his new baby brother. Our world has been all about him for two years, and I know things are getting ready to change in a big way. Help!



Dear Ann,

Adding a member to the family has it’s bumps in the road, but it is just one way that our children can learn that the world really doesn’t revolve around them. It’s their first chance to share.

Look for ways that having a new baby can help the older siblings work toward positive changes, depending on their personality types. I remember when my born-leader two-year-old son showed an interest in potty training. I sat on the side of the tub many times nursing the baby and told him, “Poor baby has to use these stinky diapers because he’s not old enough to use the potty like you. Can you show him how to do it so someday he will know when he’s old like you?” He potty-trained in two days flat! (No, I can’t come close to saying that about any of my other four children!)

Another thing that you can do is let them see a personal benefit when you are helping the baby in some way. For example, when you sit to feed the baby, encourage the older child to snuggle up next to you with a book and read together.


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Books on the Subject


Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis

I Love You Like Crazy Cakes, by Rose Lewis and illustrated by Jane Dyer (about a baby being adopted from China

New Baby & Siblings

The New Baby, by Usborne

"I'm a Big Brother" and "I'm a Big Sister" by Joanna Cole

God Gave Us Two (great follow up to God Gave Us You) by Lisa Tawn Bergen

The New Baby by Mercer Mayer

You Are All My Favorites by Sam McBratney

Just Like You by Michael Molinet and Kelly Molinet

For Mom

Baby Wise, by The Ezzos

Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel

The Birth Order Book (and other parenting books) by Kevin Lehman

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