Helping Siblings Deal with a Newly Mobile Baby
Your baby's off and running (or scooting or crawling)—but how does his big sister feel about it? Use these tips for keeping the peace once Baby enters his sibling's precious territory.
Explain Changes to Older Kids
Not only should you babyproof the house for your newly mobile baby, but you should also explain to your older child why you’re doing these things.
”Parents should clearly explain to the older child why there is a safety gate being put up, why certain small objects can only stay in an off-limits space, why certain foods shouldn’t be fed to their younger sibling,” says Dr. Sadler. “It helps to enlist the older child as your helper, thus making him feel like he’s got a special, more mature responsibility for his sibling.”
This is also important because your firstborn may feel like she’s the one being “fenced in” by baby gates and other safety devices. ”Help your older child understand that you’re doing it for the younger child,” says Dr. Homme. “They’re still the big brother or big sister, but we need to do this for the little brother or sister.”
Enlist (and Appreciate) Big Siblings
Sometimes, responsibility is the best medicine for a jealous big brother or sister. “Part of the big sibling role is the protector role or the helper role,” says Dr. Homme. “So enlist them in helping clean up their things so the baby can’t get them. They can help out in that way, and it keeps them more involved.”
Rachel got her firstborn Elizabeth involved by teaching her the word “dangerous.” “If the baby gets near anything like a plug or close to rolling off the bed, Elizabeth declares that it is ‘dangerous,’” Rachel says.
Finally, because your older child may feel overshadowed by her newly mobile sibling, it’s important to give her plenty of attention during this time.
“Praise your older child for the ‘big kid’ skills he has, and mention some he will likely gain soon,” says Dr. Sadler. “Create a special place for the older one’s treasures that’s off-limits to the younger sibling, and remember to carve out extra time and attention for the older child, especially if the younger has been receiving a lot of attention from other family members.”
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