As my partner and I already had two children when she got pregnant with our third, we did worry about how the older siblings would react to a new child in the home.

We didn’t know where there would be jealousy or feelings of neglect. We didn’t know whether they would love or resent the new baby. So it was a very nerve-wracking time, to say the least.

After all, our two-year-old and three-year-old had been the center of our universe for so long. So we wondered whether they would adapt to the shift of attention towards a new child.

Friends First

Your older child can help you get to know your baby-to-be during the several months that they are growing inside you. Just as they’re getting to know their sibling during this time, they too can be friends before birth by talking and playing together through listening to their favorite song outside of mom’s belly.

I recommend that parents bring their older children to the hospital or birth center for a brief visit after baby arrives. It’s important to let another loved one hold the new baby so parents can cuddle with both kids.

Good Luck

Of course, these worries are shared by many parents across the globe as they prepare to welcome a new baby into the family.

A new child is always going to change the family dynamic. It is essential the outline that these changes can be positive as well as negative. For every older sibling who rejects the new child, one welcomes them with open arms. Your older child might be looking for extra “bonus points” or attention; give it to them, and let them know they’re loved.

Before the Birth:

·     Communication

-Be honest and open with your other children before the new baby is due to be born. However, if you talk too soon, they may wonder why it takes so long for the new baby to show up. I would recommend chatting to them a few months into the pregnancy when mom is starting to show. Trying to explain a baby to a toddler is like speaking to someone in a new language.

Be gentle and answer as many questions as you can. Let the older sibling aware of their precious new responsibility.

·     Involve them

Ensure that your existing children are involved in the preparations for the new child. This could include helping to decorate the nursery, for example. This keeps your children in the loop, highlighting and helping them feel confident that they are still important members of the family.

·     Name

Good news, some people find it helpful to refer to the baby as ‘your new baby brother,’ ‘your new baby sister,’ or even ‘your baby.’ This increases the bond that the older sibling feels with the baby and encourages them to get involved.

·     Quality time

Make the most of these months before the pregnancy to spend quality time with your existing children. Take away all distractions and be there for them and let them know exactly what is going on.

·     Photos

Get out the old baby photos for the photo album and show your existing children that they were once babies too.

When the Baby Comes Home:

 

·     Visits

If your older children come to the hospital, make a big fuss over them like their being there is the most important thing ever. This keeps them feeling wanted and involved, as they should.

·     Gifts

If your friends/family are planning on showing up with gifts, ask them to bring some small present or activity for the older children to ensure they are not left feeling left out.

·     Responsibility

Give the older children some important jobs to do to keep them involved. This could be from anything as small as fetching some food or a diaper to having them help pick out your next online workout. Give them a job where they feel their ideas matter and make a difference because they do.

·     Choices

-Keep the older children involved in some decisions. These can be small choices like choosing what the baby is going to wear for the day.

·     Feeding

Let the older children help with feeding the new one. Some also prefer to breastfeed in front of their children rather than hiding away.

·     Show love

Continue to remain loving and excited to see your older children with plenty of hugs and kisses.

·     Communicate

Always ask your older children about how their day was and how they are feeling. They may even talk about the baby.

·     Put them first

The baby should not come first 100% of the time. Make time for your older children, too, even if mommy and daddy take turns.

·     Eye contact

Look at them and listen carefully when they speak. Do not make it seem as though your attention is just for the baby.

·     Reminisce

Talk about fun memories from before the baby was born to remind them of all the good times.

·     Remember

This time will fly by, so make the most of it!

One on Ones

Sometimes, parents need to get one on one time with their children. So once a month, take your child out and enjoy their favorite restaurant meal. Alternate kids each month so that you can equally learn about them.

As they get older, it can be in a coffee shop talking about their favorite music videos or other thought-provoking questions. The point is your child will never be too old for one on one time as long as you make it for them. In addition, the more time one spends with their children learning and conversing; the more likely children will understand new situations.

Siblings are Friends. We Have our Entire Life.

While there will likely be disagreements between your kids as they go through life, you can still try to influence their relationship by parenting them. For example, some practice deep breathing, some avoid confrontation by a handwritten note, others yell it out until they all start crying, and then they forgive and forget.

There are a bunch of different ways family’s deal with confrontation.

However your family deals with their confrontations, most people learn how to deal with arguments and tough situations in the real world by first dealing with them at home with siblings.

Be there to make sure they don’t get out of hand, and let them know it’s ok to disagree. Sometimes it’s how you handle your emotions that counts.

Enjoy the Time, Next Thing you Know They are off to College Chasing their Career Path or Passion.

FAQ’S

What to do if my toddler is upset about being an older sibling?

With all the focus on you as a firstborn in your family, it can be difficult to adjust when siblings come along. However, with time and effort, sibling rivalry should become less common for everyone involved.

How do you strengthen the sibling bond?

There are many activities you can do with kids to create a strong and lasting friendship. For example, allow for time away from each other, don’t referee fights between them as much as possible, take family vacations together, or find something they both share in common so that you all have fun while staying connected too!

Can my toddler and newborn sleep in the same room?

This will leave some great quality time for you and your toddler. As long as you can work around it, having a separate bedtime routine is perfectly fine, even if they are in the same room.

Dr. Dina Kulik Pediatrician at Kidcrew Medical, Toronto Ontario

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About Dr. Dina Kulik MD, FRCPC, PEM

Dr. Dina Kulik completed her Pediatrics Residency and Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellowship at the Hospital for Sick Children. Dr. Dina is one of Canada’s leading child health media experts, providing child health information through television, radio, print media, and via her blog DrDina.ca. Above all, Dina’s greatest joy is her family, and being the mom of four crazy boys.

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