Having a new baby when you also have a toddler can be pretty stressful. And not just because it’s so exhausting! It’s completely normal for an older sibling to feel jealous when a new baby comes into the family. I think that’s especially true when siblings are close in age.
My husband and I just welcomed a new baby into the world about six months ago. When I was pregnant with Noah, Otis and I were both pretty nervous about how our oldest would react to this new sibling. Up until this point, Addie was an only child and wasn’t used to having to share attention. And with any new situation when you have a toddler, you get a little nervous about how they’ll handle it. I hoped and prayed she would accept this new member of our family and it wouldn’t make her feel left out.
Thankfully, Addie has been such a sweet and loving big sister to baby Noah. She always wants to help with him. There was this one time when Otis was watching the kids, and Noah had finished his bottle and started crying for more. Addie grabbed the bottle out of her daddy’s hand and ran to the kitchen. She threw open the fridge door and tried to climb the shelves to where the milk was. It made me laugh when Otis told me about it later, but antics like that show how much she cares for her baby brother. (Or maybe she just doesn’t want to listen to the crying… 😀 )
Anytime Addie sees that her little brother needs something she’s quick to try to take care of him. And Noah adores his big sissy. She can just be standing next to him, not even doing anything, and he will just laugh and laugh at her. Moments like that turn my heart to mush, and it makes me so happy to see them getting along so well (at least for now 😉 )
Although Addie has had her moments when she’s gotten a little jealous, overall she’s done so great. And I think that’s because of a few things that we did to help her with the adjustment.
Included Addie in taking care of the new baby.
Once Noah was born, Otis and I were always sure to include Addie in all that was happening. If we changed him, we would talk to Addie about what we were doing. Sometimes we might ask her to get a diaper or Noah’s pacifier. Making her feel like she was a part of things helped a lot.
She loves doing things that she sees us doing, and so getting to help with her brother is fun for her. One of Addie’s favorite things to do now is help with Noah’s bath. She’ll wash his little hands or the top of his head. And she always makes sure he has lots of toys to play with in the tub. Noah loves it, too!
Made special time just for our older child.
When Addie met her little brother for the first time she didn’t really show any interest in him. And she continued to pretty much ignore him for the first couple of weeks. There were some moments when she would get jealous because she wanted cuddles with mommy and I was holding or feeding Noah. But Otis and I both made special time just to hold or play with Addie.
This was such a special time for my husband and me to bond with our daughter. We would take turns caring for Noah so that the other parent could focus on playing or cuddling with Addie. She could see that even though the baby needed a lot of our attention, we were still making time for her and she wasn’t losing our love or affection at all.
Let her know the new baby is a good thing.
My daughter was only 19 months old when her brother was born. Since she was still so young, I don’t think she really understood much about what was going on when I was pregnant. Still, I did try to talk to her about the new baby that would be born soon. I think the tone you use when you talk about any kind of change is very important to how your child’s attitude is going to be about it. They will mostly follow your lead and rely on you to teach them how to respond to changes.
If you let your child know that the new baby is something to be happy about, it can help them adjust to it better. Addie could see that we were very happy about this change in our lives, and so she followed our lead with her baby brother.
Had cuddles with both kids.
When it was time for bed I would hold both kids and rock them together. Once Addie realized that she could get attention and affection even with the baby there, her jealousy pretty much disappeared. She even started holding his hand and giving him kisses while I rocked them.
It really didn’t take long until she began to want to hold and talk to her baby brother like she saw us doing. She is now VERY protective of Noah and is always eager to comfort him when he’s crying and make sure he has his pacifier at all times.
I love getting to see the bond that they share now. I know that there will be times they won’t get along, but I love that they have each other to grow up with.
Do you have kids close in age? How did having a new baby affect your older child? Are there any tips you have for making the change easier for your family? I’d love to hear from you!