Welcoming a baby into your family is a joy, but a joy that can come with worry. If you’re expecting baby number two, you might be worried about how your older child will adjust to a new sibling. Jealousy is a natural emotion for kids, especially during the ages when they are particularly attached to their parents. They’ll notice you are taking time to care for baby and that people are excited about baby. But, there are still ways that you can help your older child adjust. 

How can I help my older child adjust to a new baby? 

One of the ways that parents can help older children adjust to a new baby is by involving siblings in newborn care, to the extent that they want to be involved. If they are a little older, they might want to help with feeding or bathing. If they’re younger, you can have them get a pacifier and put it in baby’s mouth (gently) or get a diaper. 

Especially for toddlers, it can be helpful for parents to acknowledge the difference between them and the baby. You might find yourself telling the older child to wait while you feed baby or change a diaper. On occasion, you can tell baby that they have to wait while you do something with your older child. You can also remind your older child that they are a big kid and doing something or have something that baby can’t. Emphasizing that they are special can help with feelings of jealousy. 

How do I keep my older child from feeling overwhelmed when baby comes?

 Having a baby can throw everyone’s schedules off, from sleep to meals. One tip to help your older child adjust to a new baby is by keeping their schedule as consistent as possible. If they go to daycare three days a week, keep them at daycare even if you or your partner are home with baby. 

Babies do need a lot of attention, which can create feelings of jealousy in your older child or that there is a certain level of unpredictability. When you feed your baby and do need to devote attention solely to baby, it can help to find something calm and special that the older child can do. While you are trying to have a calm moment for feeding, you can let your older child watch a special show or read a book. 

How can friends and relatives help my older child adjust to a new baby? 

One of the easiest things friends and relatives can do to help your older child or children adjust to baby is acknowledge the sibling first. When they come over to meet baby, have visitors prioritize the sibling. It is so easy for everyone to get excited about the new baby, and your other child can notice this excitement. Have friends and family ask the older sibling if they want to introduce baby or share something special about their new sibling. 

If you have someone who can help you during the postpartum period–whether it is a doula, a family member or friend–you have a great opportunity to prioritize each child on their own. They can take care of baby so that you have quality time with the older sibling. Or, they can take care of the older sibling so you can either rest or take care of baby. 

We’ll start with the unfortunate truth: the US does not guarantee paid parental leave on a national level, and not all workers qualify for the six weeks of unpaid leave federal law mandates. According to the Washington Post, “Most Americans do not have access to paid family leave through their employer.” 

All of this means that there is no standard for when you return to work after parental leave: it could be six weeks or six months. But regardless, returning to work–for either the birthing person or partner, can be a significant transition. You may be thinking about everything from your energy levels, your schedule, pumping and/or feeding, your partner’s schedule, and how your baby will do without you. Here are 4 things to consider and plan for before you return to work. 

Know what your leave looks like and be open with your employer. 

Long before delivery you may be thinking about your parental leave options–both what your employer offers and what your ideal scenario might be. Be open with your employer and consider asking for something that might make the transition back to work easier. That might include returning part-time at first or working from home. Your employer might also be willing to be flexible in ways that they haven’t shared with you. Ask other employees or your employer directly about how others have returned to work after leave. 

Think about childcare after parental leave, and then come up with a back-up plan. 

You may have come up with the perfect childcare solution: you are returning part-time to work and a friend or family member is baby-sitting on the other days. In 2022, that might be problematic because of changes in school openings due to COVID. Or, the caregiver might have to quarantine after a COVID exposure. Problems could arise simply because they are not as reliable as you would like them to be. Whatever your childcare plan involves after you return to work, come up with a backup plan. If you have a family member caring for baby, what happens if they are sick? 

If you are working from home, remember that you are still working and taking care of baby is also full-time work. Although working from home can make it easier to care of baby, you should still try to have a secondary caregiver available. Some of our clients have utilized our postpartum doulas while working from home to ease that transition. 

Figure out priorities and roles for when return to work after parental leave. 

You partner may have taken little or no time off after baby arrived. But, your transition back to work is still a transition for them as well. Take time to figure out each of your priorities and roles. If you are not a morning person, consider having your partner take care of baby’s or the family’s morning routine. This way, you can get ready for work in the way that you need to. Discuss who will pickup baby or kids from caregivers, daycare, or school. You may have figured out a postpartum plan of who was cooking and cleaning, but you may need to revisit those plans if both partners are back at work. 

Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your emotions and ask for help. 

The postpartum period can be difficult: you are adapting to a new family member. If you gave birth, you may be experiencing physical changes in your body as well (link to blog). You are going to have a lot of emotions–from being excited about being back at work to sad that your baby is someone else’s care. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge that whole range of emotions and understand that they are all OK. If you being feeling overwhelmed when you return to work after parental leave, ask for help, whether from your partner, family, friends, or other loved ones.

Are you introducing your baby to family and friends this holiday season? Thanksgiving and the winter holidays present a perfect opportunity to gather with loved ones. But because of COVID, you may not have had the chance to have your baby meet everyone yet. And we can all imagine what happens next: everyone wants to hold baby, give them lots of love, and share in the joy. That can be exhausting for you and the baby. Here are some tips for keeping everyone happy when your newborn meets family and friends. 

Manage Everyone’s Expectations When Newborn Meets Friends and Family

Within the first month of bringing baby home, you may not want to have visitors because it can be exhausting. Don’t be afraid to ask guests for help. They can bring a meal, help with household chores, or care for pets and siblings. If you’d rather they spend time with baby, then set them up to care for baby so you can focus on your needs. This might be taking a shower or a nap, eating a meal, or running an errand. 

If you are traveling for the holidays, it is also important to manage everyone’s expectations. Think about spreading out meetings or having multiple events with smaller numbers of people, rather than having one large event with lots of friends and family. 

Be Aware of Germs 

COVID has made us all hyper-aware of germs, but because babies have new immune systems, we should always be careful around them. The minimum hygiene requirements for someone holding baby should be thoroughly washing hands, wearing a mask, and avoiding touching or kissing baby’s face (as hard as that might be for them!). You may also want to limit the exposure to germs carried by younger children who are in daycare or school. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask about family member’s vaccination status. If you are uncomfortable being around someone unvaccinated, it’s OK to say so. 

Think About How Your Baby is Going to React

Even if your baby is just a month old, you’ve already learned how they react to different situations. Keep that in mind as you plan meeting family members and friends over the holidays. You should also prioritize your baby’s needs. First, make sure feedings are consistent with how you’ve been doing them at home. Think about the comfort level for you and your friends or family if you need to breastfeed or pump. If others want to feed baby, make sure they are doing so appropriately. Make sure they are holding baby right and giving the right amount of food. 

Recognize When Your Baby is Overwhelmed 

For a baby who has been at home with one or two primary caregivers for a few months, a room full of people could easily get overwhelming. Use the 5 S’s (swaddle, suck, side, sway and shhh) to reduce external stimulus and calm baby. Also considering creating a relaxation space wherever you are traveling. This can be a space for you, your baby, and partner to relax and get away from the crowd. Consider inviting in one or two people at a time, rather than passing baby around. Bring a portable crib or bassinet to make this space a safe one for baby to sleep in. And, just like feeding times should stay as consistent as possible, try to make nap times consistent as well. 

Make an Exit Strategy 

One easy way to make sure you and your baby stay relaxed is by setting parameters for the visit ahead of time. If someone is coming over to your house, ask them to come for a specific amount of time like dinner, a walk, or an afternoon nap. Be straightforward with your communication, and don’t be afraid to say, “We are going to get ready for bed. Thanks for coming over and bringing us dinner. Please don’t forget your dish!” If you are traveling, you can also say when you have to leave by or make it clear what times you will be visiting. If you are staying with a family member or friend, you can also say you are going to bed (or put baby to bed and slip away, too). 

The holidays with your new baby are a great time to make memories and see people we haven’t seen in a long time. But, the memories are even sweeter when we are as relaxed and healthy as possible. 

The term ethical screentime sounds like an oxymoron.  No way they both exist at the same time.  But what if it can?

Screens are a part of our life.  As adults, more and more of the functions we used as individual and private services are being moved onto a smart device for easier, faster, and more immediate interaction.

However, as parents, we are warned almost constantly about the dangers of screen time for kids. 

Also, we know the charm and magic of childhood are that the imaginations and curiosity of children explode, hypothetically, when allowed to play.  Playing in this way often does not happen when screens are around.


One of the hardest parts of parenting with the intent to promote screen-free-childhoods, or “appropriate screen use”  is the hypocrisy that creeps into the equation.  We, the adults, feel justified and “right” in using our devices, but for kids to have that much time is unhealthy, and not recommended.

We all know it’s not recommended.  But most of us do it.

Could we do screen time better?

It can become a battle to get little people off of their shows and games.  There are tears, and there are fits.  There are very big feelings, on both sides,  when parents interfere with the relationships kids have with their fictional characters.

And that is the thing that is just starting to get understood.  Children intuitively seek relationships.  They do it with almost everyone.  Friends become BEST friends.  Rocks become friends.  Blankets, blocks, books, you name it.  So it makes sense to learn that children form relationships with the characters in the shows they watch.  (It’s not new either.  Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street have been taking advantage of this behavior in educational ways for 50 years!)

And knowing what we know about the human need for belonging and connection, some researchers believe yes, we can do screen time better.

Some of the notions around screen use that have made it to mainstream parenting may sound familiar:

  • set limits and have expectations with appropriate consequences.
  • as your children get more language and more mature, let them be a part of the conversations and let them participate in setting the limits and consequences.
  • And this idea may be new but is useful for you and your kids: before you pick up your phone, say out loud why you are using it.  Are you checking the weather?  Are you sending an email?  Are you playing a game for a little bit?  Making a conscious connection to a sometimes unconscious compulsion can help you realized how mindless some of your screen usages may be.

Addicted to Screens?

There is more recent evidence that may help you understand your role as the parent in helping your children have healthy boundaries with their technology.

Screens and the shows, games, and apps on them are being increasingly described and proven  as “addictive.” 

We all use screens more, and it’s getting harder to have screen-free spaces.  When we are using our screens, it is almost impossible to have a connection with others around us at the same time.

The first three years of your child’s life are packed with neurodevelopment, and up until age 6, your child engages in implicit, not explicit, memory.  Meaning, as psychologist Lisa McCrohan shares, your child’s body remembers, but their cognitive mind does not.  So forming healthy bonds, emotional safety, and strong connections are most important during these young years because it does frame how the child sees the entire world.

One of the fundamental things children need is to feel included.  They need connection to thrive.  So if we are spending these first years letting screens do the relationship building, the neurological pathways that children need to learn how to make connections are not being built to communicate with other people.

They need bonds and connections, and when children do not have those things with the people around them, they will strive to form relationships with the people or things around them, like characters in a favorite show, or game.

Children’s minds are so amazing but also, obviously, not fully formed, so when a beloved show is turned off, if there is no connection to the people outside of the show, the showing going away feels like taking away their best friend for an unknown length of time.  And it is incredibly distressing.

When screens are removed from kids that don’t have healthy boundaries and reliable expectations, there are usually tantrums and wild displays of emotions.  Parents often turn to punishment, separation, or threaten their connection to beloved people or items in an effort to get them to behave – such as taking away screen time or making them sit apart from a group.

The problem is that when parents punish, shame, and threaten behavior from a small person who does not have the emotional development to regulate their feelings, they also weaken the connection between the child and themselves.  No trust is built.  There is no expectation of relationship to fill the gap.  So what is a parent to do?

Screen time and building relationships:

1) Start with what you know: set limits and expectations both for screen time and for relationship building with family members/ friends/ and community members.  When can they expect to have it?  When can they expect to be with family members without screens for the intent of building familial bonds?

2) As a parent, understand your influence and how your behaviors are impacting your children’s view of what is acceptable.  If your children copied your habits, would you be all right with that?

3) Understand that one of the basic needs of children is to belong, and look at how your family shows they love and connect.  With young children, it often means lots unconditional love, eye contact, proximity to one another, and repetitive games.

4) Each child may have unique strengths that you will need to spend time understanding. Relationship building could look like asking for help.  Or it could look like inviting them to run an errand.  Or it could be working on a project together.  It could also be as simple as you the adult, sharing what it was like for you to learn the things your child is learning.

Belonging is fostered when other’s opinions and thoughts are viewed as valuable.  So ask about your child’s thoughts.   Validate them comments, effort, and their physical presence.  Continue to engage by encouraging conversation with questions, eye contact, and respectful replies.

Screens can be a part of your family.  But they aren’t your family, and you have to model behavior that shows your kids there is belonging and connection outside of their electronic device.

Written by Ariel Swift

This is to the people having babies in their 30’s. It is a bit of a whirlwind. Maybe you are at this juncture because of professional choices. Perhaps now is the start of parenting because of earlier heartache. Or maybe you have been terrified of how to afford a kid, and now you finally can.

But you’re here. And one huge surprise is that your friends are not. So, where did they go?

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