Your new bundle of joy arrives. You have been waiting for this moment for what seems like an eternity and are finally holding your new baby for the first time. Unfortunately, your much anticipated moment when you older child meets his or her new sibling doesn’t always go the way you had imagined. Feelings of jealousy and neglect are common in older siblings, and this can lead to some pretty frustrating behavior after the new baby’s arrival. As a mom, you know this new baby is not a replacement, but your other child certainly feels left out and jealous of his or her new sibling. What do you do? Fortunately, there are few easy ways to make you “big” kid feel special again.
Include Them in as Much as Possible
Including your child as much as you can is likely one of best ways to overcome feelings of jealousy. Depending on how young your older child is, you can ask if they would like to help you feed the baby, dress the baby, or keep the baby entertained while you cook a quick meal. Help your older child feel like he or she is on a team with you, helping you to care for the new baby and creating a special bond.
Have Your Partner Step In
Now that you’re a mom of two, it’s important to spend quality time with both children individually as well as together. This is a great time for your partner to step in and watch the baby for a couple hours while you go to the park with your oldest or even just to the library to read a few books. Spending time together will re-strengthen that bond that you had before the baby and let your child know that you still can make time for her.
Reminders of His/Her Skills
Older sis is ahead of her little sibling with physical and cognitive skills, so keep reminding her of all that she can do. Remind her of the things the baby is unable to participate in, such as helping mommy, brushing her teeth, or even eating ice cream. Make sure to say, “It’s awesome being the older one, isn’t it?” Doing this will make her feel special. Find some time to do a special big-kid project with her that remind her how fun it is to be “big.”
… But Try Not to Forget Her Needs
Even though she is the older sibling, she’s certainly not old enough. Try to avoid saying things like, “You’re a big girl now so you can do that.” If she needs something reasonable, remember to pay attention to her needs, too — even though they might seem insignificant when compared to your newborn’s.
Forget Those Pesky Chores
It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. You have a brand new baby, plus another child who both depend on you. Remember, they are only this little once. If you don’t get that last load of laundry in while the baby is sleeping, or if you don’t finish all the dishes – it’s fine! Enjoy that free time to spend with your oldest. Making her feel special and secure is more important than any household chore.
Take Care Of Yourself
At this difficult time, it’s important not to neglect your own needs. Both your older child and the new baby need mom to be healthy and happy, so make time to engage in a little self-care — and don’t be too hard on yourself about “not doing enough.” You’re doing enough, mama! Bravo for being supermom!
How did you help your big kid cope with a new sibling? We would love to hear!