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The Canadian Press
Baby Girl Sussex is coming, so what’s Big Brother Archie to do?
NEW YORK (AP) – Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, the 2-year-old son of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, will soon have a sister in the California hamlet that decamped royals are calling home. Hopefully, the introduction of Baby Girl Sussex to Montecito is a smooth one for the little one, but seasoned parents and pediatric experts warn that for any family, the transition takes preparation and diligence. Launch the upheaval of a pandemic for additional challenges that may include regression of the toilet, sleep strikes, and aggressive behavior. Do not be afraid. There are a myriad of ways to make the introduction of siblings as easy as possible. For starters, Morgan Ball, a mom of two, advised: Try to take it all in stride. “Hopefully for the best and plan for the worst,” said Ball, 34, of suburb of Columbus, Ohio. “Don’t panic about it. Children have great feelings. They do weird things. They might bite their little brother and that doesn’t mean they’re going to be a serial killer. Ball’s eldest was 3 when his brother was born in April 2020 as pandemic panic set in. To make matters worse, her husband’s father had died suddenly not long before, further shaking young Charlie’s world. “I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who could tell a similar story because they lost someone during COVID,” she said. “It was difficult in terms of behavior. It took a lot of understanding.” Ball and her husband knew the usual suggestions for getting Charlie ready, including reading him books about babies and new siblings, letting him choose a gift for his new brother, and giving him a doll. “I would have liked to have done more,” she said. In the first few weeks, as Ball recovered from the birth, she and her husband did something else. “We would compromise. We would ask, who is more reasonable at the moment? OK, go ahead, ”Ball said. Helen Egger, child psychiatrist and chief medical officer of Little Otter, which provides online therapy, parenting support and other mental health services to children and their families, recognized that the stress and isolation of the pandemic can make it more difficult to introduce a brother or sister. “Many young children did not go to preschool or daycare or were not with a babysitter. They missed playing with other children in those settings or at the park or during play trips, ”she said. “Your little one may have never met a baby!” For siblings of Archie’s age, Egger suggests parents avoid using too many words and lengthy explanations. She is a fan of the baby doll or stuffed animal approach to play out scenarios, such as bathing, swinging, and holding a baby. “You can pretend to change the diapers or peek into the crib or the cradle quietly to see if the baby is sleeping or how to be gentle with the baby,” Egger said. “When you play, let your little one take the lead as well. You will learn things about their feelings. Because of COVID, hospitals and doctor’s offices often do not allow children for checks or mum visits after birth. “So the first thing you need to think about is getting your child ready for mom to be in the hospital. Just like you take out a mom’s baby shower bag, you might consider packing one for your little one at home with special toys and a special mom card that says “I love you”, Egger said. Caitrin O’Sullivan in Red Bank, New Jersey has had it a couple of times. She recently gave birth to her fourth child. Her oldest is 5 years old. This time there were fewer opportunities to involve her older kids due to pandemic restrictions. the perks is we’ve been home with the kids, and there’s been a lot more time to talk to them about mom’s tummy and this and that, “she says. She used a phone app that includes fetal growth videos, and she bought a portable device for the children to listen to the baby’s heartbeat at home.” And once that the baby is home, i would say the most important thing to do is plan for this momen t individual for older kids, especially if it’s Archie’s Age, because they don’t fully grasp, understand, and rationalize what’s going on. They just know they’re not getting the special attention they used to get, ”O’Sullivan said. O’Sullivan takes his 5-year-old daughter to get her nails done, followed by lunch. She gives her 4-year-old son a trip to a nearby video arcade. One thing to avoid, she says, is talking about the pregnancy and the new baby all the time. “Especially with this fourth, we didn’t. I mean, I work full time. My husband works full time. No one was talking about this baby 24/7, ”O’Sullivan said. Other parents cautioned against exaggerating the idea that the new baby is the responsibility of an older sibling. A father said he and his wife took their 2-year-old daughter to an older sibling class at their hospital and she was stressed out thinking she would be in charge of her sister all the time. If a newborn takes over an older sibling’s crib or nursery, make this transition well in advance of birth, another parent suggested. Yet another recalled parents who sent their toddler to Grandma’s house for birth. When she arrived home, she found a new baby in her bed. She was far from happy. Once a new baby is installed, parents must balance the needs of each child at all times. “It depends on your own children,” O’Sullivan said. “My 5 year old daughter loves the baby. My 4 year old son is like, he’s cool but it’s not my responsibility. O’Sullivan had another important thought for all parents: “There is no one way to be a perfect parent, but there are a million ways to be a truly good parent.” ___ Follow Leanne Italy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/litalie Leanne Italy, The Associated Press