Is your little one jealous of the new baby? Here are some tips to help him adjust to the new addition to the family.
What can you read in this article?
- Why is my child jealous of the baby?
- Tips to help your child adjust to his new sibling
Having a new child in the house really leads to a big shift in the family dynamics. For the parents, it’s the reality of having another child to take care of; more diapers to change, more meals to prepare.
For the sibling, his world is going to change because he needs to figure out where he stands in the family. He will have to share everything with his new sibling – from the attention, the space, and most of all, you.
When my second baby was born, my eldest was such a natural Ate. There was no problem with her being jealous of her little sister. And while she was too afraid to hold her at first, I could say they bonded right away.
Maybe what helped is that other family members were focused on her while I was recovering and focusing on the newborn.
When my third child was born, the first few days were great. I was even surprised at how easy it was for my daughter (my second) to wean herself from breastfeeding because her baby brother was already here.
However, I would notice that she was extra clingy around me. When the baby would cry, which means I have to go pick him up, she would also cry as if telling me not to leave her for her baby brother. So that leaves me with not just one, but two crying babies.
Image from Pexels
Why is my child jealous of the baby?
And it seems like I’m not the only one who encountered something like this. When I asked my friends about the topic of their child adjusting to the new baby, they also shared similar instances.
Some kids would be extra clingy and demand the mother’s attention, while some would just feel distant and not want to do anything with the baby sibling.
So, why do children get jealous of the new addition to the family?
Deena Margolin, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and the other half of the duo Big Little Feelings on Instagram, explained how the situation would seem to toddlers in a unique way.
“It will be like my husband coming home and like, ‘Hey, I know we love being together, but I met this new woman. She’s going to come live with us. You’re going to love her. She’s super nice, you’re going to have so much fun with her and she’ll become your best friend!’
If you told me this, I’ll be like, ‘You’re kidding, right? Absolutely not. I’m not down.’ This is how your toddler can feel with a new baby coming on the scene.” she explained.
For years, it has always been you and your child. You were his security blanket. Your life revolved around him. Then all of a sudden, someone new comes and steals your time and attention. For your child, it may feel like this new baby is getting between you and him.
Having a new baby in the picture changes the family dynamics and it leaves our kids feeling confused. Because they’re supposed to be happy that they have a new sibling, but he sees you spending time with the baby and not him, and it’s not fun at all. That’s where the feeling of jealousy comes in.
If they’re toddlers, they can’t explain and process that big emotion yet, which is why some of them choose to be distant or even be aggressive towards the baby.
Keeping this in mind, you can still help your child adjust to his new role as you prepare for the baby or while taking care of the younger sibling.
Ways to help your child adjust to his new sibling
While a child being jealous of the new baby is perfectly normal, there are some ways that you can prepare him for the coming of his new sibling and transition from being your “one and only” to being the best Kuya or Ate.
Image from BigLittleFeelings on Instagram
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How to Prepare Your Children for the New Baby in the Family
Rica Peralejo natigilan sa sinabi ng panganay na, “I miss those days when it was just the two of us.”
First off, here’s what you should AVOID doing (and saying):
Avoid pushing your child to be okay with the new baby right away. Don’t say, “No, baby loves you. You love him. You’re going to be best friends.”
Scolding or shaming your child for acting out.
Refrain from reprimanding your child when he does something wrong with the baby. They’re just kids, so don’t expect them to get it right the first time. Example: “Don’t say that!” “Why did you hurt your baby brother? Go! You’re on time out.”
Laughing or diminishing their feelings.
Some people would think it’s cute when kids show signs of jealousy. However, it might seem to your child that you’re not taking his feelings seriously. For example: “Did you hear what he said? Johnny said he wants to return baby to the hospital. Haha, how cute!”
“You’re not the baby anymore.” For some reason, relatives get a kick of making a child jealous of his younger sibling. If you see this scenario playing out in your own family, warn your relatives not to say that to your child.
“Don’t be noisy, the baby is sleeping,” or “Sorry I can’t play with you, I have to feed your baby sister.” When you make the “baby” the reason your toddler can’t have fun and can’t “do things I used to do with mommy and daddy,” your child will naturally start to resent the new baby.
Instead, here are some ways to prepare your little one:
Tell your child about the pregnancy
Involve your child in your pregnancy. Let him see the ultrasound, ask him for names for his little brother. You can also tell him stories about your pregnancy with him. Let him touch your tummy and feel the baby move. He can even talk to his sibling in the womb.
Pick out a special gift for your child “from the baby” and let him pick out a gift for his new sibling as well. This will help break the awkwardness of their first meeting and helps your toddler see the baby as a kind being, and not as a threat.
According to Big Little Feelings, it’s better for the toddler or the child to meet the new baby in the bassinet, not on mommy or daddy’s lap. This way, the first time he meets his sibling, he won’t see them as “invading my space.” Give your child a reassuring hug if it’s the first time you see them after giving birth.
Aside from reminding them not to tease your child, ask your relatives to say hi to the older sibling first before meeting the new baby so he won’t feel left out and think that all the attention is on the new baby.
Image from Pexels
Teach your child the proper way to play with his sibling.
Most of the time, kids don’t mean to hurt their baby brother or sister. They are just not equipped in handling fragile things, or humans for that matter.
Teach your child the gentle way to touch his sibling, where to kiss him, and how to play with him.
Let your older child help you out in taking care of the newborn. Ask him to help you get the baby’s burp cloth or pick a toy to show his little brother or sister. Remember to thank him for helping and compliment your child for being a good sibling.
Carve out a special time for your older child
It’s the best time to introduce having special dates with your child. Leave the baby to your hubby and take your child out for a quick walk, or play with him when the baby is asleep. Let him know that he is still a priority and a new baby will not change that, but more importantly, let him feel that there’s really no reason to be jealous of the new baby.
One thing that helped us reduce the feeling of jealousy in our daughters was just really involving them in the process of taking care of their baby brother and just reassuring them that they are always special to us, their parents.
When their little brother hits a milestone, we try to tell them about the time they hit that milestone. We tell them how they sounded when they first came out of my tummy, or their first word, or the first time they walked. That helped them realize that what we had with them was special, and that will never be erased.
Just remember, just like you, your child is going through a big change and he is trying to navigate his feelings. Just hear him out and tell him that’s it’s okay to feel scared or sad sometimes. Reassure him that he is special and that he will always be your baby no matter what.
Big Little Feelings, Dr. PsychMom