Ways to Help Your Older Child Adjust to the New Baby
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.