Tips for Adjusting Your Older Children to the New Baby
Updated: Mar 8
The day we brought our son home from the hospital, our daughter was not sure what to think of him. In her 3-year-old mind, the brother we were bringing home was going to be the same age as her. She thought she would be able to play with him, talk to him, and have someone fun to spend time with.
She learned quickly that this little person we brought home was not fun. He cried all the time, pulled her hair if she got too close, spit up on her feet, and she’d hear him poop pretty loudly.
Her favorite thing to say is that babies “Eat, Sleep, Eat, Poop, Eat, Cry!”
She is learning now that he can be fun and the older he gets, the better he is.
I decided to put together a list of things we have done to adjust our daughter to our new son to bring them closer and try to avoid the jealousy.
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1. Talk about the Baby
During my entire pregnancy, we told our daughter about how she would be a big sister and have a new brother she could play with some day. We tried to explain how the baby would be little and she could help us teach him how to walk and talk. She was very excited, and still is, to be a part of teaching our son all of these things.
2. Don’t hold baby when your children arrive
Since I delivered our son during the COVID-19 pandemic, our daughter was not allowed to visit us at the hospital. She was not able to meet the baby until we got home. When my mother-in-law dropped our daughter off, we had our son in his baby swing. This allowed us to give lots of hugs and kisses as soon as she walked in the door. She didn’t think we loved her any less. The last thing you want your child to feel is that they are being replaced.
A few weeks before our son was born, I went shopping for presents for my daughter. I filled a gift bag with a Minnie Mouse stuffed animal, Play Doh, bubbles, and a special Sister Necklace and matching bracelet. We also had our daughter shop for a present for her new brother so he would feel welcomed when he came home. She excitedly picked out a brown bear that said Little Brother on the foot. Fun.com has plenty of toys for you to choose from!
The day we arrived home, we pulled the presents out. When her grandmother dropped her off, we had the presents ready for her. The first thing we did was introduce her to her new little brother. She immediately gave him the bear, which followed with running away, but it was a start. We then gave her the gift bag with her presents and told her they were from her brother. She loved all of the presents and thought maybe she could touch his hand. Success!
4. Include Your Older Children
Almost every time we are teaching our son new major milestones, we try to include our daughter in them. When he rolled over, our daughter was on the floor next to him showing him how to roll. This really made her feel like she helped teach him how to roll and was excited for him when he finally did it. Now, she’s showing him how to crawl!
5. Ask Your Older Children to Help Occasionally
You’re in the bathroom or you’re in the shower and the baby starts to scream! We’ve all been there. One of the things my daughter will occasionally do on her own is talk to him to calm him down until I can get to him. He’s always in a safe location like his crib or pack n play and she knows not to pick him up. Does she do it because she doesn’t want to listen to him cry, probably, but it definitely helps you out and gets your children interacting with the baby.
I also like to try to get her involved by asking her to grab me items. If I'm on the couch nursing and I need a burp cloth; she’s more than willing to grab it for me. She loves to be my helper. I’m not saying all children can or will do this, but it doesn’t hurt to ask, if they are capable.
6. Read Bedtime Stories Together
One of the best things we started doing was reading them a bedtime story together. Even at 4 months old, our son starts to cry at 8:30pm if we are not in his sister’s room reading a bedtime story. They both look forward to snuggling up in bed for daddy to read a story in funny voices. It’s the highlight of our evening. It allows us time as a family to spend together even after a busy day apart. Need some new books? Fun.com has a large selection of books to choose from.
You can also check out our Top 10 Favorite Bedtime Stories Here.
Those were just a few of the things we did to adjust our daughter to our son. She really loves him and will hold him and play with him now. We still see jealousy occasionally, but it’s hard to avoid when your older children are still little. One of the most important things to remember is your family will get into a routine eventually.
What are some of the tips you have for adjusting your older children to the new baby?
Feel free to comment below!