First, some observations on why this situation is such a big deal for parents and kids. Let’s face it, your older child’s world has been rocked to the core. My husband tells a funny analogy. It’s like being married and then one day your husband comes home and says “honey, I have another new wife, but I love you just as much.” In all seriousness, when you think about it, that is how the arrival of a new baby can feel to an older child. When my second, Lachlan, arrived his older brother Hedley didn’t crack a smile for a few weeks. At only 13 months, he sensed that the entire household had changed and that a competitor for his parents attention was on the scene.
Helping Older Siblings Cope with the New Baby
That being said, I have two main tips for dealing with the emotions of older children when a new baby arrives in the house. First, once the new baby comes, carve out special dedicated time with your older child. Bring them to school, to the park, to an activity, and carve out reading time for them. Look at this time as an investment in your relationship. The more secure your older child feels, the more happy and pleasant he will be, the fewer tantrums you’ll have to field, and the more easily joyful times you’ll have down the line. Spending dedicated time with your older child reassures them and reduces sibling jealousy.
Number two, involve your older child in taking care of the younger baby by making him or her your first lieutenant. Ask them to do small tasks like bring you diapers and wipes. Allow them to do gentle pats. When you do the bath, depending on your older child’s age, encourage him to wash the feet. Make your older child feel as if your younger child is allowing for more rather than less time with their parents, rather than taking their parents away. Making your older child an active participant in the care of your younger child encourages responsibility and reduces sibling rivalry, since the older child steps into the role of a caregiver and out of that of a rival.
In terms of loving your baby, our love is infinite and only deepens with time. We have enough room in our hearts for as many babies as the world bestows upon us. Just make sure you take care of yourself while you’re busy giving out all that love.
For more tips, watch today’s video. Oh, and here’s a video I filmed when Marielle was a little baby on what worked for me then.
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