I have five kids. That means on four occasions I’ve brought a baby home from the hospital and had to go through the transition of the youngest of no longer being the “baby.” Not once have I had a problem with the newly displaced “baby” have the new bundle take over his or her spot.
Curious on-lookers always announce to me that my “baby” is going to be jealous once the new baby arrives. Maybe this is normal? I’m nor sure. But I do know that I’ve purposely made it a point to make my kids feel very comfortable and excited about their new brother or sister. I put a lot of effort into avoiding sibling jealousy over the new baby.
It doesn’t happen by accident, and I’m sure that if left to their own devices, new siblings would most definitely feel displaced if it weren’t for intentionality on the part of my husband and I. And rightly so.
So how do I avoid “new baby jealousy?”
Here are some very intentional things that I do when preparing to bring a new baby home to meet his siblings.
• Talk a lot about the new baby
When I am expecting a new baby, and especially as I get close to delivery, I talk to my kids a lot about what to expect. I explain to them that the new baby will need a lot of my time and attention, but it doesn’t mean that I love them any less. Depending on their age, it will be easier for your kids to understand. But, in any case, talk to them a lot about this.
Answer any questions your kids have about the new baby and let them know it’s okay to ask questions and express their concerns. Bringing a new baby home will bring up a lot of emotions for everyone—both good and bad. It’s important that your kids know that they can talk to you about their feelings. Talking to your kids will help avoid jealousy. It lets your kids know that you still have time for them and still love them. It’s a great way to help your kids feel secure about your love for them and there will be no room for jealousy.
• Buy them a special doll
If your kids are still quite young, giving them a special doll to play “mommy” or “daddy” can help your child feel a sense of responsibility, instead of jealousy. Try to purchase this doll a while before the baby comes so that your child can develop a sense of connection with the baby (doll). Teach your child to feed and swaddle the baby. Now is a good time to teach that newborn babies have to be handled with care.
• Give them the job of protecting the baby
I always teach the youngest that when the new baby arrives, it’s their job to protect the baby. This gives them a sense of responsibility and ownership. It also helps keep feelings of jealousy at bay. It also helps them to remember that babies aren’t toys and they need gentle care.
• Let them pick out a baby gift
I’ve found that by taking my kids shopping for a gift for their new brother or sister helps to dispel feelings of jealousy. The gift doesn’t have to be something elaborate. It can be a small stuffed animal or a special blankie that’s just from them. This helps them feel a special connection with the baby even before the new baby arrives. I have watched as my kids have given their gift to their new brother or sister and noticed a look of pride and admiration. I believe that’s where the connection of love starts. This way, feelings of jealousy have much less of a chance to form.
• Make it about the other kids
This is a great piece of advice from my own mom. I remember when my little one was at home and she didn’t understand why I was gone for two days and why I was in the hospital. As best as her little mind could understand, she knew we were having a baby, but she couldn’t quite compute what that involved. In short, she missed me and was waiting for me to come home and quickly!
As a result, my mom told my husband and me to make it all about the kids who who were patiently and eagerly waiting at home for us to return. She told us to walk in the door, put the new baby aside (safely, of course) and run and embrace the little ones waiting at home. Best advice ever.
That is our routine when coming home with a new baby. We hug and love our precious kids and let them know that we love them very much. In doing so, they understand that they’re not being displaced, but rather, we are welcoming another sweet baby into the family to love and cherish.
It is hands down, the best thing we have done to avoid jealousy over a new baby.
• Spend special time with your kids apart from the baby
A new baby takes up a lot of time and energy. But you need to let your kids know that you still have time for them. They need you to spend time with them and show them that just because you brought a new baby into your home, you are still their mom and you love them.
Try to take special time with your kids, apart from the baby. Use your newborn’s nap time or call a family member or friend to watch the baby. Play games, read books or go out for some ice cream. Do something special that you used to do before the baby arrived.
If you show your kids that you’ll still spend special time with them, they won’t have a reason to be jealous. They will know that you still love them and they will feel secure in your family.
• It depends on you
In large part, your attitude towards your kids and your baby will affect their feelings. If you take the time to show them how much you love them, they will feel secure and less likely to become jealous.
Remember that a new baby is an adjustment for everyone. Be patient and expect some time for transition. If you take the time to try these suggestions, your kids will embrace the role of big brother or big sister with much more enthusiasm and much less jealousy over the new baby!
Hello, I’m Kelly, a regular contributor on this blog. I live in Pennsylvania with my loving husband and our five beautiful children. I have a background in early childhood education, but I am currently homeschooling my kids. From pregnancy to postpartum to toddler life, I love sharing advice with other moms who are having a challenging time with this crazy but wonderful role of motherhood.
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