5 Ways to Ease the New Sibling Blues

Help your child deal with a squalling, red-faced intruder.

Having a new sibling can be difficult for a toddler. While you see the new baby as a lifelong friend for her, your child sees the baby as an intruder -- as someone who is taking up a lot of your time that used to belong to her, says Linda Dunlap, PhD, a developmental psychologist and chairman of the psychology department at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Here's some advice on what to expect and how to handle the challenges of your expanding family:

1. Make sure your child feels involved. Make your older child feel involved in the baby's life. From the start, always refer to the newborn as "our baby." Put her picture in the baby's bassinet or ask your child to get you a diaper, gather bath supplies, choose an outfit, or decide on a lullaby for baby.

2. Expect your child to regress. A child who was toilet trained may have accidents, and a child who gave up bottles may ask for one again. If your child continually gets out of her bed and comes into yours, keep putting her back into her own bed and reminding her gently but firmly that you love her but that she has her own place to sleep.

3. Provide extra TLC. Your older child will need his share of attention in the first weeks after the baby comes home. Consider having a relative or babysitter on hand to make sure the needs of both children are met.

4. Encourage your child to talk about feelings. When the new big brother acts out, help him express his emotions. Tell him that it's okay to be angry, but not to throw his toys around, suggests Dunlap. Tell him you know that it's hard to share, and reassure him that he's still very important and that you love him very much.

5. Tell your child about his babyhood. Remind your child of all the cute things he did when he was a baby, Dunlap says. It helps him understand that he was just as little once and needed to have everything done for him, too.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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