Welcoming a new baby can be both an exciting and challenging time for your older children. Today, we’re talking about a few easy and playful ways to combat jealousy! Read on for some must-know parenting tips!
There isn’t much that is more exciting than bringing home a new baby. That is, until you’re a couple of days in, and your older child realizes that the baby is here to stay. Dealing with older child jealousy is a big concern when a new baby comes home, as sharing Mom and Dad with another little human is not easy for a toddler to understand.
Preparation is key, and the more you can be prepared for the jealousy monster before it arrives, the better off you’ll be. Give these simple tips a try to combat jealousy toward the new baby.
How to Combat Jealousy When Bringing Home a New Baby
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- Practice and prepare! If you’re still expecting, take advantage of this time to prepare your older child as much as possible. Give him or her a baby doll and work together to diaper and feed the baby. Read books like Baby Dear and Kid’s Book to Welcoming a New Baby that explain what welcoming a baby will mean.
- Involve your older child. Once the baby arrives, involve your older child as much as possible. Ask them to get you diapers, help you feed the baby, help you “hold” the baby (while you closely supervise, of course), and anything else that makes your older child feel like they are part of the changes happening in your house.
- Set aside special time with each parent. Find one thing each day that your older child gets to do with each parent. Perhaps Dad does bath time with the older child while Mom feeds the baby, and then Mom reads a story while Dad cuddles the baby. Routine is important to help your older child know what to expect, and the one-on-one time is that much sweeter for all of you now that you’re being pulled in different directions.
- Schedule a special outing with another favorite adult. Making your older child feel special is the name of the game. Ask a grandparent, Godparent, or another loved adult to take your older child out to lunch, to the park, or another fun place. Make sure you mention that this is something your older child gets to do because they are a big kid!
- Be understanding. Your older child is going to have waves of emotion that they cannot name. Losing it because you picked out the wrong pajamas is probably related to the new baby. As hard as it is when you’re exhausted, try to remain calm and be understanding when your older child becomes emotional and irrational. The wave will pass much more quickly if you respond calmly and quietly.
- Go on an outing just the three of you. Once the baby is taking a bottle, leave him or her for a couple of hours with a grandparent or another trusted adult, and go on an outing with just Mom, Dad, and your older child. My daughter turned 2 just 5 weeks after her brother was born, and when we took her to Build-a-Bear and lunch for her birthday, her brother stayed home with a close family friend. We wanted her to feel special on her day, and honestly, my husband and I missed time with just her. It was as beneficial for us as it was for her!
- Implement a “Big Kid” sticker chart. If you have yet to involve your child in chores around the house, now’s the time. Choose items you know your child can successfully complete like straightening his or her room and feeding the dog, and make a sticker chart together. Decide what reward your child is working toward, and each day, as you add a sticker, remind your older child that the baby isn’t old enough yet to be able to help around the house and earn a reward.
Before long, your older child will learn that the baby is part of his or her new normal. Once the baby is a few months old and starts to interact a little more, your older child will realize that this little person is becoming a playmate. It won’t be long before they are running around together driving you crazy!