How to prevent sibling jealousy of new baby

In this post, I will share with you the best advice I got regarding early sibling bonding.

I keep meeting people who are amazed at how well my (now) 28 months old son and 8 months old daughter get along. My son basically loved his little sister from the first moment, and he has shown relatively few signs of jealousy until now.

I prepared for the arrival of his little sister by reading up on ways to promote sibling bonding, and friends shared their experiences as well. I will share with you here the 4 pieces of advice that I have found most helpful. Especially the second one. I think it really made a difference.

1. Read a bedtime story about a newborn baby brother/sister.

To make sure that the new baby didn’t come as a shock, I prepared my son by reading a bedtime story with him about a little bear whose mother was expecting.

When I was pregnant with my second child, I felt my son might be too young to understand what was going on. It wasn’t easy to explain to him that there was a baby in my belly, that would be his little sister. Luckily there are many books for toddlers about getting a baby sibling. We started reading our favorite book labeled 18+ months a bit before he turned 18 months. I was not sure how much he understood and if he would draw a link between the pregnant mother bear in the book en my own pregnant belly, but he liked the book a lot and always asked me to read it a second or third time. I do really think that it helped him draw his conclusions when finally I did come home with a baby, just like the mother bear in the book.

2. How to stage the first meeting

This piece of advice was my favorite. It might be commonly known, but I hadn’t heard it yet. It seemed so logical to me, however, that I decided to definitely follow it: My friends told me to make sure my baby isn’t in my arms when my toddler first meets her. My arms were his place. If he meets our daughter in my arms, she will be in his spot and be a direct competitor for attention.

So make sure your baby is lying down beside you rather than on top of you. Let your toddler meet him or her like that, and he might not directly link the new baby with feelings of jealousy. And make sure you have your phone at hand to film this wonderful first moment. You will definitely want to see it again and again.

3. Include your toddler when looking into your newborn’s eyes

This was another very helpful tip that I got. For your newborn, it is important to look into its eyes and talking to him or her. This is important for bonding. To avoid your toddler feeling left out or get jealous, you could talk about the older child while looking lovingly into your baby’s eyes. “Hi little baby, look, that’s your big brother Tom, and he loves you very much. Did you see how well he build that block tower? He will surely show you how it’s done when your older.” for your newborn baby, it is irrelevant which words you say as long as you speak words and look into its eyes. But for your toddler, it feels nice to be included in this intimate moment. I felt so happy about this advice because it made it easier for me not to feel guilty towards my older son when having these intimate moments with my daughter.

4. letting your toddler help out

I wasn’t sure if my toddler was old enough actually to put this piece of advice into action, but it turned out that he was! Let your toddler help out with the baby. Make him feel needed in the process of taking care of the newborn. In our case, I asked him to bring me diapers when I was changing his sister’s diaper. He was always running to the diaper drawer and gave me the diaper looking very proud. After a while, he would even anticipate my needs and got me a diaper before I even needed to ask. And at the moment, he likes helping me with spoon-feeding her or pushing her on the swing.

I have the feeling his little sister became his baby, too, in some way. Instead of a rival for attention, his sister became “our” baby. Not just mine and dads but also his. His baby sister.

Now that his sister starts playing with his toys, some small conflicts do start to appear. So I am not suggesting these tips are some magical formula for preventing jealousy altogether. And maybe it also really depends on the nature of the child. But for sure, they made some difference.

If you have any pieces of advice that you would like to share, I’d be very pleased if you do so in the comments.

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4 pieces of advise that helped prevent jealousy early on