Acclimating Older Siblings to New Baby

Introducing your new baby to an older sibling or siblings can either induce feelings of excitement or panic.

On the one hand, you can’t wait to see your children meet for the first time – the idea that you have just brought home their lifelong buddy makes you swell with emotion. On the other, what if your older child doesn’t quite love the idea of sharing the spotlight and cries when you place the new baby in their arms?

Both are very common reactions – and the same sibling(s) can have both reactions! Here are a few tips for easing that adjustment period.

  1. Invite the older kids to help. Get them involved. Let them hold the baby – but don’t force them to.
  2. Avoid “blaming the baby.” Stay away from phrases like, “We can’t because the baby is sleeping/needs to eat/is too new to go” etc.
  3. Teach, don’t expect. Your older kids may not know what to do with a baby. Teach them how to hold their new sibling, how to hold a bottle, what volume to use around the baby, to be aware of the space around the baby and to avoid that area during active play. Kids want to learn. Teach them – don’t scold them or expect them to inherently know how to be a big brother or sister.
  4. Make time just for them. Put the baby down for a nap and hold your bigger baby(ies). Take the older siblings to do something that makes them feel special and leave the baby at home with a partner or friend if you can – even for a short while.
  5. Talk to the baby about how special his or her siblings are. “Gee, buddy, you sure have the best big sister/brothers in the world! You’re the luckiest baby ever to have Morgan and Mason for your family!” They will hear you.
  6. Give it time. You don’t form bonds overnight – your kids may not, either. Just when you least expect it, they will become friends – just give it time.