Every parent who has welcomed another baby into their home will tell you: the sibling jealousy is real. And while it can be frustrating for an over-tired parent to handle, showing the older sibling extra kindness, empathy and love is key to helping tame the jealousy dragon.
While there is an adjustment period for everyone, beginning with these tips before the new bundle of joy arrives will go a long way in preventing sibling jealousy:
There are countless children’s books on welcoming a new baby to the family, so head to your local library and check out a few books. Not only will you help sister understand the changes ahead in a way that she can understand, but you’ll create special bonding time through read-aloud and time together, one-on-one, at the library.
Introduce a New Doll
When you announce the impending arrival of the new babe, give a new doll to big brother or sister in order to reinforce best sibling practice. Babydoll can join in on everything…meal times, bath times, even babywearing! We love the idea of including a baby doll carrier, as your child can feel included in carrying their own baby as you carry yours.
Carve Out Alone Time
Once baby arrives, creating special time just for you and your older child is important. This doesn’t need to be elaborate and overwhelming — we know you’re exhausted — just some extra cuddle time on the couch counts. Creating one-on-one space for you and the older siblings allows them to feel included, loved and understood.
Create Sibling Roles
This tip requires a balancing act: on the one hand, it’s important not to stress that big brother is ‘the big kid’ as this can create too much pressure, but giving him or her a role allows for ownership in becoming a new sibling. This can be as simple as gift opener; when visitors come to the house bearing gifts, having big brother take part in opening the gift for baby allows him to be a part of the process. Instead of feeling left out, the older sibling is included and excited.
Strive for Balance
This doesn’t mean splitting yourself up equally amongst all siblings. Rather, aim for a balanced week. It’s totally okay if the new baby is demanding all of your attention one day…it’s bound to happen. Just make sure that the next day, it’s a little bit more about big sister. Balancing out your time like this allows each child to feel cared for and loved.
If All Else Fails, Breathe
Including all of these tips, and executing them with empathy, will create a lasting and harmonious sibling relationship. But even the best-laid plans can quickly go awry. If you become overwhelmed, know that it’s okay to feel that way, too. Take a few breaths. Have patience with yourself. You’re doing the best you can, and we promise…it’s enough.