June 20, 2008

‘Camp’ Prepares Siblings for New Baby

By Jennifer L. Boen, The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Jun. 20--Amelia Bucher held a tiny diaper in one hand and her Strawberry Shortcake doll in the other. Then she set the diaper down and carefully followed the instructor's directions on using the wipe to clean the baby's bottom before diapering the doll.

It was serious business for the 3-year-old Fort Wayne girl, who is expecting a new baby brother or sister around Aug. 5. At Thursday's Baby Day Camp, sponsored by the Parkview Women's Health Center, Amelia and more than a dozen other children were given important tips on what to expect with a new baby around the house.

"Can babies talk?" asked Elizabeth Kissinger, prenatal education program supervisor at the health center.

"No!" the youngsters shouted collectively. Some said they just cry. Others said babies spit up.

"What can you do with a baby? Kissinger asked them.

Olivia Stedge, 5, said playing peek-a-boo is good. She's the voice of experience, said her mom, Anne-Marie Stedge of Fort Wayne. Olivia already is big sister to Grace, 4, and Natalie, 2 1/2 , and her third sister is due in about nine weeks.

Younger children often have unrealistic expectations of what a baby can and cannot do, Kissinger said.

"They think that when the baby's first born, they'll be ready to play with them and kind of hang out with them. They're so excited at first and then disappointed when the baby is really kind of this pink blob," she said.

Jalee Elson's mom, Jessica Elson of Bryan, Ohio, said with five years between the two children, "It will be a big change." But Jalee, 5, confidently showed off some impressive baby-care skills.

"She was pretty snappy with that diaper," her mom said.

The group toured the childbirth center at Parkview Women's & Children's Hospital, collected snacks that their moms -- and they -- will get when they come to the hospital, got a peek through the child-height window at two newborns in the nursery and added a new word to their vocabulary: postpartum.

"We've got to use our indoor voices," Kissinger told them as they walked and skipped through the hallway. A nurse rushed by rolling an empty bassinette. Bells went off at the nurses' station. The new sights and sounds can all be overwhelming if the first time a child meets the new baby is the first time for a visit to a hospital.

Young children may also connect a hospital with sickness or even death.

"It's good to let them know this is a good thing that happens in the hospital," Kissinger said.


To see more of The News-Sentinel, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.FortWayne.com.

Copyright (c) 2008, The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

For reprints, email [email protected], call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.