A few months ago, the mother of a dear friend – who is a dear friend herself – asked me if I would like some advice on helping my daughter adjust to a new sibling. Her daughters share roughly the same age difference that Miss E and her soon-to-be little brother or sister will, so I was eager for her perspective – and tickled that she’d asked before simply doling it out. I can’t be the only parent that wishes folks did this more often.
Given what she had to say was more useful than anything I’ve been able to Google or Pin or suss out on my own, I feel compelled to share.
Don’t tell Miss E how much she loves the new baby. Tell her how much the new baby already loves HER. Feeding my toddler’s already healthy ego? Perfect.
Keep a basket of books near where you’ll be sitting when you feed the new baby. Make sure the chair is big enough for Miss E to squeeze in for stories while the baby is being fed. I took this one step further and put together a special “nursing basket” of books and small, fiddly toys of a kind that usually keep her busy. I know it won’t keep her completely out of my lap – or running amok – but I’m hoping it will help keep her occupied if we reserve the basket exclusively for when baby is nursing. Especially if her new sibling is as poky of a feeder as she was in the beginning.
If possible, have a few small gifts on hand for Miss E to unwrap when folks bring a gift for the baby. Made possible by the Dollar Spot at Target.
Ask Miss E if she’d like to show visitors her new baby brother or sister. This seems like a natural extension of talking about “our baby,” which we’ve been doing. Hopefully she won’t feel so hateful toward the new addition that she’ll refuse.
Ask visitors (ahead of time) to ask Miss E about the new baby. Another nice way of making her feel connected, and part of a family that has a new member to introduce.
She may revert a bit, think she needs a bottle like the baby. You may want to have something special on hand to divert this behavior. Something only a “big sister” is big enough to use. Like pizza.
I know there will be hurt feelings and a lack of understanding, and I’ve been around pairs of new siblings often enough that I’m already steeling myself for the jealous tears. But feeling even a little bit more prepared – and feeding my nesting instincts preparing some special things for my sweet girl – just feels right.