If you’re getting ready to welcome a new baby into the family, it’s important to consider your older kids and how to support them so the transition is an exciting and positive one. Depending on the ages and developmental stages of your children, there are several techniques you can use to help them adjust to a new baby in the house. Taking time to involve your older children can make it a more enjoyable experience for everyone. Here are five tips to help you prevent and redirect new baby jealousy:
Avoid Setting Too Many New Baby Rules
Help foster positive sibling relationships by not introducing too many rules about how your older children can interact with or handle the baby. If your kids constantly worry about breaking the new baby rules, they may start to resent your little one and the restrictions attached to them. Instead of scolding them for leaving their toys or arts and crafts supplies within baby’s reach, consider giving older kids responsibilities that make them feel included.
For example, you can give an older sibling the responsibility of making sure there are no crayons left out for the baby to put in its mouth. This can help your older kid feel like they’re helping take care of the baby, and that there aren’t a lot of new rules. If you notice your kids are acting out, here are some phrases you can use to redirect their energy and attention or educate them on the right way to interact with their new sibling:
- “Instead of banging your hands near the baby, try drumming on a harder surface to see the cool noise it makes.”
- “I love that you want to be close to the baby, but she fusses less if you touch her softly, like this.”
- “I’m so glad you like the baby’s striped onesie, and if you put on your striped blue pants, you can match him!”
Set Aside Time for Your Older Children
Having a newborn can be time-consuming. As much as you love doting on your little one, your older kids may feel left out and jealous if they don’t also receive special one-on-one time with you. If possible, have your spouse or family member watch your newborn for an hour or two while you take your older child out for ice cream or a trip to the park.
Carving out time just for them can help your older kids learn they’re still a priority. They can see that even though you love the new baby, it doesn’t mean you love them any less. If you don’t want to have anyone care for your newborn without your supervision, make time to play with your older kids while the baby takes a nap. Even 20 minutes of reading a story together can mean a lot to your child and prevent jealous or resentful feelings about the new baby.
Use a Baby Wrap To Keep Your Hands Free
When your newborn arrives, consider carrying them in a baby wrap or sling so they can be close to you but leave your hands free to play and interact with your older kids. One of your baby’s fundamental needs is to be held, and a baby wrap can help you provide this feeling for your little one without sacrificing your mobility. Your baby can feel secure while you’re free to tie shoelaces, fix lunches, and color with the baby’s older siblings.
Wraps can also help keep babies calmer, which means less crying and fussing for you and your older kids to worry about. Instead, you can spend time with all of your children together and feel confident that you can give them the care and attention they need. It’s also a great way to lighten your load and help you take care of yourself. Adding to your family can feel overwhelming, but self-care can revitalize your energy and boost your positivity for parenting.
Get Your Older Child a Baby Doll
If you have a toddler or elementary-aged child, consider getting them a baby doll before or shortly after your newborn arrives. Having a doll companion can introduce the idea of having a baby in the house, and dolls can help a child get excited about the arrival of a real baby. Teaching them how to take care of a doll can help them understand how to treat their younger sibling. It can also help them learn what a baby needs and feel like they’re involved in the process of mothering.
After the baby’s born, your toddler can stay busy mimicking your activities while you care for your newborn. You can get your older child a variety of accessories for their doll that resemble things your newborn needs, such as a stroller, removable diapers, a bottle, and a pacifier. This can help teach them about caring for a real baby so they’re more familiar with the care you provide for their younger sibling.
Include the Older Siblings as Much as Possible
You can include your older kids early in the process of welcoming a new baby by bringing them to your ultrasound or midwife appointments. This can help them feel involved in your pregnancy and give them the time and space to ask questions before the baby arrives. You can also go shopping for baby clothes with your older kids, or have them help you prepare the baby’s room.
This allows them to get used to the idea of a new addition to their family. Being involved in the new baby’s arrival can help your kids take pride in their younger sibling and may inspire them to want to help take care of the baby once it’s in your home.
We know it can be an exciting and overwhelming time introducing your new baby to their siblings and your pets, but with a few simple tips, you can help all of your loved ones feel involved. When it’s time to send your older kids to daycare or kindergarten, you can jumpstart their learning at your local Crème de la Crème. Contact us for more information on how our programs can help each member of your family.