“Mommy when you are going to stop holding the baby?”
I knew this could happen, but it didn’t make it any easier when it did. We welcomed our third baby into the family two weeks ago and at first the older kids loved everything about the new baby. Now that the novelty was wearing off, our son was ready to get back to “normal.”
This particular morning the kids noticed I wasn’t as available as I used to be. Breakfast took longer than usual. I couldn’t help fix the CD player as quickly as before. Mommy was tired and the kids knew it.
Thankfully, the sleepless nights doesn’t last forever.
Although there were a few days like this, overall our older kids did a wonderful job embracing their new baby sibling.
As a mom, one of the first lessons I learned was that I can’t control everything. Tears, hurt feelings, lost tempers are sometimes inevitable. But, I believe there are things we can do to prepare our kid’s hearts for a new sibling and make this transition as smooth as possible. We followed these four tips and overall our kids adjusted as well as possible to life with a new baby.
#1 Talk About the Changes Coming
This is big! You can’t ignore the fact that life is going to change when baby comes and just hope for the best. It’s an adjustment for everyone. We made sure to talk about all the wonderful things like snuggling a baby, kissing her toes, singing to her, getting a chance to feed her a bottle, etc. For the 9 months before she arrived we talked about how excited we were to welcome a new baby into the family. It was great to get the older kids involved. They felt invested.
We also used books and even TV episodes to talk about some of the challenges. Like the fact that mommy may not be as available the first few weeks. Daniel Tiger has some great new baby episodes that address these issues.
#2 Encourage Them to Engage With The New Baby
Once baby arrives encourage sibling interaction. This came very naturally for our oldest daughter. She is constantly wanting to show her baby a new toy or read her a story. We “practiced” this before baby arrived with their baby dolls. We’d change her dolls diapers, feed the babies and put the dolls to bed.
When her baby sister arrived it was natural for her to want to be with her. Our son likes having a job to do. He thought it was so important and special to get the diapers and sing to the baby before bed each night. That being said, if you are kids are resisting interaction, don’t push it. It may take time and that’s okay.
#3 Spend One on One Time With the Big Kids
This isn’t directly related to sibling bonding, but it can make a huge impact. The moment my son asked when I was going to stop holding the baby I knew what he meant was “when are you going to pay attention to me?” So that night I made sure to spend some quality one on one time with just him.
We read his favorite book, had a dinosaur battle and I tucked him in at night. The last thing I want is for him to start resenting the baby because she takes away his mommy time. It’s not always easy to balance everything, but with a little intention you can set aside special time for each child.
#4 Reminisce About Everyone’s Baby Days
My kids love to hear stories about themselves. As soon as I say “when you were a baby…” a big smile comes across our son’s face. When you bring them into the fold and talk about your family loves and cares for babies they will want to be a part of the “new stories” being made with baby.
Lastly, give yourself some grace. This is a big life adjustment. Babies are wonderful and exciting, but also challenging. Take it one day at a time and try to find one good moment in each day.
For more on this topic, check out Inspired Motherhood