Welcoming a New Baby: 7 Playful Ways to Combat Jealousy

Don’t even ask me where the last ten weeks have gone. The days have just been flying by as we have been settling into the busyness of life as a family of four. As with any big life event, welcoming a new baby into the family is going to take some adjusting to for each and every family member – just ask our cat ๐Ÿ™‚

For siblings a new baby doesn’t just mean someone else to share Mum and Dad’s attention with, there is also likely to be changes to routines and to the physical space of the home. Their parents are likely to be tired and possibly stressed, or overly sensitive and emotional. Not to mention learning what is involved in their new role as the ‘big’ brother or sister. These are some of the strategies we have found helpful for Immy (at four years old) as she adjusts to having a sibling.

Welcoming a New Baby: 7  Playful Ways to Combat Jealousy

1. Read or play quietly together while you are feeding ~ we will often use the times when I am feeding AJ to read together or to play quietly. Games have included everything from simple board games that can be set up next to me on the couch to imaginative play featuring Immy’s beloved fairies or princesses.

2. Create play spaces where you can be present even when attending to the baby ~ we also have a couch in the playroom with a coffee table that has Immy’s Lego set up on it. I can be involved in Immy’s Lego play even if I am burping or holding AJ, or I can lie her down on the couch beside me as we play. The table makes it much easier for me than being down on the floor, which was especially useful in the weeks immediately after I gave birth. As AJ is getting bigger I can set her down on a rug with her baby play gym for some baby play/tummy time alongside where Immy is playing.

7 Playful Ways to Combat Sibling Jealousy When There Is a New Baby in the House

Mummy multitasking at it’s best –ย  playing fairies while feeding the baby.

3. Don’t forget to spend time together outdoors ~ as it is Winter here I have had to make a real effort to get outdoors, especially as Immy can play safely in our backyard without me actually being physically outside. It is however nice to take advantage of the patches of Winter sun to take AJ out so that we can all have some outdoor time together. Popping the baby into the pram or a baby carrier and heading out for a walk is another easy way to be outdoors together.

4. Involve them ~ Immy has grown up in front of my eyes since becoming a big sister. She (generally) loves helping me with anything to do with the baby. However I don’t push her if at any given time she doesn’t want to help as I don’t want her to see AJ as hard work. I also involve Immy in helping me with everyday chores, such as unpacking the dishwasher, folding the washing or preparing dinner, when the baby is napping so that we have that time to talk as we work together.

5. Catch them being good ~ while Immy absolutely dotes on her baby sister and showers her with love, her adjustment to this change in our family has led to some perfectly understandable pushing of the boundaries with both myself and Dad 101. And being overtired and feeling stretched as we ourselves adjust to our new normal, we both felt that we were all getting caught up in the spiral of way too much negative attention as a result. Dad 101 and I resolved to take the time to notice and acknowledge more of the things that Immy is doing right everyday so that she receives more positive reinforcement than negative.

6. Take advantage of the offers of others ~ although it can be difficult to do so, taking advantage of offers to help from beloved friends or family members can make all the difference to family harmony. I developed an infection in the weeks following AJ’s birth and was so thankful for the help of my Mum and Dad who rearranged their own commitments to make sure that one or the other was here with us on the days Immy was home from kindy. This meant that Immy had someone she loved to play with while I rested or tended to AJ, or that I could spend time with Immy while Mum or Dad helped with AJ.

7. Be sure to include pockets of undivided attention whenever you can ~ even small increments of time can make all the difference in the life of a little person, especially one who has had you all to themselves for all of their life to date. Say yes to some play time together or doing something extra fun, like making and sharing a delicious (but simple) afternoon tea together.

This is what is working for us at the moment. Of course, what will work best for your family will be completely individual, depending upon your personal circumstances, especially the age of your older child/ren.

How did your older child/ren adapt to life with a newborn?

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  1. The Little Red Hen says:

    These are good points. I actually found the transition for us with a new baby and 2.5yo last year relatively (stress relatively) problem free, doing a lot of the things you have mentioned above. What I am finding is a much greater challenge is this year, just as baby has turned 1 and started walking, I am now encountering a sudden wave of jealousy & difficult behaviour from the previously doting 3.5yo big sister. Having the baby everywhere, wanting to play with her big sister, needing a lot of attention (to make sure she isnt climbing where she shouldn’t etc) is causing us a few problems. I’d love to know your thoughts about handling this stage. Although you are obviously a bit busy right now!

  2. Jen Fischer says:

    Your tips are spot on. I have a 2.5 yo and 11 month old — and it really has been important to make sure they both get enough of mommy and that big brother always felt included and important, especially in the early months when the baby’s needs are the most demanding and immediate. Now, that there able to play together, it really is starting to pay off. We also read a lot of books about being a big brother before the baby was born and now read a lot of books about sharing and helping out.

  3. This is very relevant for us too at the moment with a two week old and a 2.5 yr old. Our version of fairies is matchbox cars on the couch :).

  4. When a sibling came along in our household the new baby gave the older child a present of a baby doll the first time they visited the hospital. Most often when I bathed or fed the baby they would bath/feed their baby – it worked a treat!

  5. We have a 3 month old and a 2.5 year old. At first our toddler was very emotional when the new baby came home. Things have settled down now and she adores her little brother. But sometimes when my hands are full with an unsettled baby and my toddler is wanting, needing and demanding, things get a little stressful. Gradully the days and nights are getting easier and I am looking forward to the day when my two can play happily together. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. These are great tips, I’ll have to pin them for future reference!

  7. Thanks for these tips. Keep them coming!
    These topics and issues are weighing heavily on my mind at the moment as our new baby arrives in 2 months. Want to make sure that the transition is smooth and happy for all, especially since I feel that the older sibling is probably the one in the family making the most sacrifices.

  8. Thanks for the great tips, we have a 4 1/2 year old and an 11 month old, I have just rearranged one of my work days so I can spend the afternoon with the 4 1/2 yearl old having mummy and him only time – his eyes light up every time Wednesday’s come around.

  9. Things can be tricky with a little one with immediate needs and a toddler who is still very reliant upon you. At almost 5 months old my little one is suddenly very alert and aware when he is feeding. As a result he is quite distracted by my two year old playing with his trains/cars/Lego and it is all but impossible to read stories anymore. All of a sudden I have these enormous eyes looking at me as I read or sing! My two year old has become quite skilled at independent play, but after almost 5 months of waiting around while I nurse he is becoming quite impatient and frustrated. Any tips would be greatly appreciated from others who have been through this stage!

  10. Bridget @ Harkles says:

    Great article. Another tip I have that worked amazingly well for me when I had my baby and a 3 year old was to always make sure the 3 year olds needs were met first before I tended to the baby. I would make sure he had food if he needed it and a drink and always was fully engaged in a task before I would start feeding or dealing with bub. This really helped to minimise any disruptions from him and made him feel important too.

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