Bringing home a new addition to the family is exciting, but may bring about some big feelings for older siblings.
Here are our top tips for supporting older siblings during this transitionary period.
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1. One-to-one time
This can understandably be difficult with a newborn suddenly demanding a large percentage of your time! But your little one doesn’t understand the burden of these new responsibilities and he/she will find it difficult to process the sudden lack of time and attention.
Both parents should aim to spend at least 10-15mins a day one-on-one with their older child. Whatever the activity, try not to be distracted by the baby and their needs, this allows your child to understand their importance and significance to you too.
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2. Involve them
Instead of your older child seeing their new sibling as the object of your affections, try to turn their focus and affections towards the new baby as well. You can do this by encouraging their active involvement in baby cares and give them age-appropriate tasks.
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3. Maintain the routine
Kids thrive on routine, and changes to this routine can cause stress, emotional outbursts and negative feelings towards their new sibling.
There will be inevitable changes to routine that once involved both parents, of course. For example, the bedtime routine may now have to be a solo parent responsibility, while the other parent cares for the new baby.
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4. Encourage them
Your child values your positive feedback and regular reminders of their significance to the family unit. Naturally, this significance can feel threatened when a new baby enters the scene!
To help alleviate this insecurity, remind yourself to use encouraging phrases and feedback when your eldest child shows positive behaviour towards the new baby.
5. Speak gently
This is probably one of the hardest tips to implement, speaking to your toddler softly and patiently is challenging when you are sleep deprived, hungry, and managing two (or more!) demanding little humans!
In these moments of stress and overstimulation, your inpatient tone can quickly cause fear, jealousy and negative thoughts towards the baby!
Written by Keryn Thompson RM & IBCLC (L-301766)
Abell, S. and Ey, J., 2007. Introducing a New Sibling to an Older Child. Clinical Pediatrics, 46(4), pp.368-368.
Dağcıoğlu, B., 2018. The Effects of the New Baby on The Older Sibling. Ankara Medical Journal,.
Pediatric Patient Education, 2021. Welcoming a New Sibling: How to Help Your Child Adjust.