Bringing home a new baby can be a bit of a shock for everyone, especially older siblings who are used to being the main cheese. Here are some great tips for reassuring your older kids that they’re not being replaced or forgotten about.
Talk about how they feel.
Talk to your oldest about how they’re feeling and let them know that it’s okay if they are experiencing a range of emotions.
Give ‘em a gold star.
Let your toddler know what a great job they’re doing as a big brother or sister. Tell the baby how lucky they are to have such an awesome older sibling. Let your toddler overhear you talking about how grown up and helpful they are, and how proud you are of them. These kinds of words of affirmation are worth their weight in gold.
Speak for the baby.
Let your toddler know how much the new baby loves them (even if they are actually kind of terrified of them). Play up smiles and coos and emphasize that the baby is trying to say how much they love your older kiddo. Hopefully the feeling will be mutual.
Catch them being good.
Praise your toddler any chance you get when you see them doing things that make you proud. They will be, too.
Tell baby to wait.
Make a point of “telling” your baby that they need to wait their turn while you are helping big brother or sister so that they don’t feel like they’re always the one being asked to have patience. Another great reminder for your big sibling is that moms take care of all of their kids. If you’re tied up with the baby, it’s great to let your older kid(s) know that as soon as you have a minute, you’ll make sure to help them out because the needs of all of your kids are equally important.
Kid holding rotation.
Take turns taking your older kid(s) on outings sans baby, even if it’s just a trip to the grocery store or for a walk after dinner. This gives you a chance to have some one-on-one time together, and also gives your partner an opportunity to bond with the baby when you head out.
Quiet time only bin.
Prepare special activity bags or boxes for your big kids that are reserved specifically for nursing, nap time, or any time you need quiet and/or distraction.
Feed and read.
If you can manoeuvre a feeding baby and a book, reading a story with your toddler while your baby eats is a great way to bond and build a love of reading at the same time.
Get them to help out.
Make your toddler a “Big Sibling Kit” so they can join in on baby duty. Get them some kind of receptacle for toting around baby gear (an old diaper bag, backpack, basket, apron with lots of pockets… you get the idea). Then, fill it to the brim with diapers, rattles, pacifiers, books, onesies and anything else you can think of, so they can come to the rescue when their sibling starts to cry. This can definitely do wonders for their confidence and pride, and will probably come in handy the first time you’re faced with a blowout and don’t have any diapers on hand.
Set up some visits.
Schedule activities for your toddler with other important people in their life, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, or friends. They’ll enjoy the attention, and it’ll help them to blow off some extra energy that you might not have the capacity to help them release.
You’ve probably seen the meme of a little baby in its swing with a gate around it to “toddler-proof” the area. A lot of moms have sworn that this really does work!
And a final trip for everyone in the family that might be one of the most important and overlooked of all. Sometimes, the transition isn’t seamless. Sometimes, your toddler just needs some time to get used to the way life looks with a baby around before they decide it’s actually kind of okay. You don’t have to force anything, or worry that things won’t get better. They will. We can (almost) guarantee it.
What are your tips for helping older kids adjust after bringing home a new baby?
Drop ’em in the comments below. I’d love to hear them!