Parents should watch out for sibling jealousy when a new baby is due and prepare for it during the months leading up to the birth of the new child. A toddler is likely to feel left out in the preparations and concerns of family members before the birth, and can end up resenting the baby even before it arrives. Creating an atmosphere in which your child feels involved in the entire process, from birth to welcoming the baby into your home, helps to avoid sibling jealousy later.
Pre-Delivery Steps to Avoid Sibling Jealousy
- Tell your child that you are expecting a baby before he or she hears it from another family member. Introducing the new baby idea early allows time for your child to accept it.
- Let your child know that Mommy’s stomach is going to grow big, that she will be tired and will need to rest, that one day she’ll go to hospital to deliver the baby, and even details like where the baby is growing. Keeping a child involved reduces chances of sibling jealousy later.
- If there are changes to be made, make them before introducing the new baby or the older child will feel displaced. If your toddler has to be potty trained, weaned from breast feeding, or has to join childcare for a few hours, start it during the pregnancy months itself.
- Changes such as redecorating or moving a child to a new bedroom to make place for the baby could be causes of sibling jealousy. However, showing that you value your child’s opinion and talking to him like a grown-up about decisions can help. Involve your toddler in choosing wallpaper or paint, allowing him or her to perform small tasks or to help moving toys to a new room.
- There are books about introducing new babies that you can share with your child to prepare him or her. Spending quiet time together provides an atmosphere for children to air their views about the pregnancy and their worries or fears. Listen to them and discuss them with your child seriously.
- Explain that your child will have a little brother or sister to play with, and how they will always have a special friend. Talk about the good part of being a big sister or brother, about how big siblings look after little siblings.
- Acknowledge their feelings of sibling jealousy and tell them its acceptable to feel like that. Helping them by talking through it can make it easier in the months when the baby is around and when you may not have as much time.
Introducing the New Baby
- Try to have a small gift ready for your toddler “from his baby sister or brother” for the first time you introduce the new baby to your child.
- When your child first sees the baby, let him or her decide if they want to just look, or touch its hand or hold it for a few minutes.
- Don’t force your child to kiss or hug the baby until he or she is ready.
- Sibling jealousy is often just a result of the child feeling that they are no longer important. Shower attention on your child and ask how school or preschool has been, what they have been up to, or what they ate for dinner.
- When introducing the new baby to visitors and relatives, remind them to show attention to your toddler too, and talk to him or her about things other than the baby.
- Set aside special time for the child, either while the baby is asleep or being cared for by your partner. Let your child know this time is only for the two of you, and do whatever the child wants.
- Allow the older child to participate in looking after the baby, helping with feeding or bath time, or fetching things, but only if they show willingness. Telling them repeatedly that they are being wonderful big brothers or sisters can reduce sibling jealousy to a large extent.
- Tell your child stories about how happy everyone was when they were born and stories about their birth and infancy. Children love stories about their own babyhood, and it will show them that their stories are just as special.
1. Cure Sibling Jealousy – Baby World
2. Preparing your Child for a New Sibling – Kids Health
3. New Baby Sibling- University of Michigan Health System