As if having a baby was not stressful enough!
Now you have to deal with the older siblings’ emotional responses, which is never an easy task.
Fear not! In this post, I will look at ways you can help older siblings cope with a new baby!
The Emotional Response Of An Older Sibling
The announcements went out 7 months ago.
The gender reveal was awe-inspiring and got tons of love on Instagram.
Everyone is excited that little Bobby will have a sister early this spring.
The nursery is tastefully done in muted colors and that “perfect” shade of pink.
Bottles are lined in rows in the pantry, and there are enough diapers in the laundry room storage closet to last a zombie apocalypse, so everyone is as prepared and ready as they can be, right?
Then big sister Tara comes home from high school the next day with some dismaying news and an overabundance of out-of-control adolescent hormones.
She and her friends were watching YouTube yesterday, and you won’t believe what they found. New babies can be, probably will be, from the evidence in the videos that she HAD to share with everyone, are downright homewreckers.
Of course, mom and dad have a different view of their blessed event.
A Growing Family Needs To Work Together
This is not mom and dad’s first rodeo, after all.
Tara was born when they were just out of college.
Bobby came after dad got promoted so mom could take more time off work to be with two kids, and now with number three, the SURPRISE on the way and coming very soon, they are taking it in stride.
Dad wishes he could save sleep up in a vault-like a bank so he could take some extra out when he needs it because EVERYONE knows, well, you don’t know.
One child will cry all night that first year and then with number two they’ll sleep so soundly that you find yourself getting up in the middle of the night just to check to see if they’re still there.
Mom thinks about relationships. Tara was a little older when Bobby came along, and she just ADORED him.
Getting to be “Mommy” to a real baby brother was right up her alley. None of the sibling rivalries one might hear about between those two.
But what about now? There will be a toddler AND a newborn in the household with a teenager who wants her space and independence.
This can be a challenge, so what can Mom and Dad do to help their daughter adjust?
Mom spends her days lately pouring through books and online articles on what to do to help her daughter accept that there will be another human. A human who needs more of her time and attention.
Questions arise. A teenager may seem excited that a baby sister is on the way, or they may show concern or even alarm at the prospect, as in Tara’s quandary over questionable social media.
Helping Older Siblings Cope With a New Baby – Tips
First, let’s get Tara a copy of “What to Expect the First Year” by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel.
It’s actually a great book for young adults with new babies in the home as well as for new Moms.
It is revised as well, so there is often new, and engaging information about what her little sister and brother are going through that makes them act the way they do.
For instance, they aren’t just gross little snot monsters, crying inconsolably with boogers running down their face and over their lips. They may be teething. This issue is explained in the book.
This book can show your teen how to have empathy towards their younger siblings.
There is another good book listed in the references below, and there are also many great books you can find on Amazon and by visiting your public library.
Give the siblings their personal space.
T.his is important. If you are lucky enough to live in a big house, it would be wise to keep them separated for obvious reasons.
Babies crying at night get you up of course, but Tara needs her beauty sleep.
On the other hand, babies don’t like loud sounds, so Tara’s favorite rock music is fine for her at ear-bleed levels and necessary for homework time, but your baby probably wouldn’t enjoy it so much.
If your teen and new Baby share a room because of home size, there are ways you can give your teen the illusion of having their place.
Use room dividers.
You can find many inexpensive ones today, and on places like Pinterest, you can find ways even to make your own. You can also hang a sheet to divide the room to have their own “part” of the room.
Let them paint their part in their own choice of colors and use their decor to further the idea that this is their own space and not for the baby.
It’s more challenging sharing a room with a baby, but you can make a different part of the house a study area, and you can set rules for listening to music in the bedroom (with headphones).
Prepare BEFORE the arrival of the new baby.
You would think that most teenagers would be thrilled to have a new baby in the family. But on average, some are thrilled, and some don’t care. Others have feelings of jealousy and insecurity.
There are ways to deal with these situations. The first of which is communication.
It’s a great idea to start talking to Tara about her new sister before she is born. Perhaps you would begin by including her in the day-to-day events leading up to the birth.
Going to the ultrasound, being there for the first time, hearing the heartbeat.
Closer to the arrival, you might ask her if she would like to help pick out items her sister will need, like clothes, toys, etc.
The idea here is to let her know that the change in things is about the whole family, not just the baby.
This way, there is no need for your teen to feel left out because no one is singled out.
It’s about “family”.
The three words. Jealous, annoyed, embarrassed.
Some teens become jealous at the thought of another person coming in to compete for affection from their parents. Jealousy usually stems from fear of some kind; in this case, it is typically a fear of being left out.
You can set aside exclusive, quality time with your teen before and after the baby comes to let them know they are still your priority.
By doing this, you also build your relationship, so you have something to fall back on when a bump in the road comes.
Relationships take commitment.
This is a celebration of life. Mom, dad, Tara, Bobby, and the new baby are all in this together. A family.
The more you lay out this idea to your teen before and after their new sibling arrives, the more likely they will see them as a part of the whole.
Sure, there will be exuberant joy at the beginning. There should be!
Helping Older Siblings Cope With a New Baby – Recommended Reading
What to Expect The First Year, By Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel
Baby Owner’s Manual, By Louis Borgenicht
Adjusting to a New Baby Takes Time!
If you have a toddler adjusting to a new baby, it will take time, patience, and a lot of attention to get them through it.
I know that life is going to be a little tougher when you are juggling a newborn and a toddler, but it will pay off in the end, trust me!
Ultimately, if you are wondering how to deal with a new baby and siblings in one go, you need to know it won’t happen overnight.
One thing to watch out for is toddler sleep regression when your new baby arrives. Just when you thought you couldn’t get any LESS sleep, right?
I am sure that the older siblings will learn how to cope eventually. They will get there quicker with your love, support, and guidance, they will get there quicker!
Kids are adaptive, and they learn quickly. Just try not to see them as free baby sitters, ok?